A Man's Future
Rand Prescott believes that his chances for happiness are limited because he's going blind. But when he meets Karen McAlister one magical starlit night, he begins to imagine a different futureone filled with love. Karen already knows she wants to be with him for the rest of her life. But Rand refuses to consider marriage; he refuses to bind her to a man who can't see. Brokenhearted, Karen is prepared to walk away, but can Rand really let her go?
PROMISE ME FOREVER
A Woman's Resolve
Joy Nielsen is a private nurse and physical therapist who's never been daunted by the challenges of her career. And her latest patient, businessman Sloan Whittaker, isn't going to change that. Confined to a wheelchair after a serious accident, he's lost the will to walk. Joy is determined to make sure he recovers, and once he does, she's prepared to move on to her next patient, no matter how strongly she feels about Sloan. There's only one problem. She doesn't think she can get over him .
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and a leading voice in women’s fiction worldwide. Her work has appeared on every major bestseller list, with more than 170 million copies in print, and she is a multiple award winner. The Hallmark Channel based a television series on Debbie’s popular Cedar Cove books. For more information, visit her website, www.debbiemacomber.com.
Hometown:Port Orchard, Washington
Date of Birth:October 22, 1948
Place of Birth:Yakima, Washington
Education:Graduated from high school in 1966; attended community college
Read an Excerpt
Karen had dreaded the party for weeks. Her father was sure to use it as another opportunity to find her a husband. She almost cringed at the thought of what lay before hera succession of eligible men, abrupt introductions, and pointed questions. Yet she loved her godparents and wouldn't offend them by not attending their annual Christmas party.
"Are you ready, lass?" Matthew McAlister let himself into her apartment without the courtesy of knocking.
"Honestly, Dad, one of these days you're going to walk in here and find me stark naked," Karen admonished with a sigh.
Karen laughed, too, for it was difficult to maintain an injured air when her father was in this mood.
Stepping back to survey Karen, Matthew's eyes lit up in appreciation. "My heart swells with pride at the sight of you, lass," he said in a strong Scottish brogue.
Karen forced herself to smile. His speech always began the same way. After admiring her beauty, he would recount the days he'd courted her mother and their marriage when Madeline was nineteen. From there he'd reiterate his growing desire for grandchildren, most particularly a granddaughter. It was always the same, to the point that Karen could have mouthed the words along with him.
"Dad," she interrupted, "we'd better go. Snoqualmie Falls is a forty-five-minute drive."
Surprisingly, Matthew insisted Karen drive. She did so willingly, but glanced apprehensively at her father. He looked tired and a bit ashen.
"Are you feeling okay, Dad?" she asked, hiding the concern in her voice.
"Of course I am." He rallied somewhat. "I'm just saving myself for the grand affair. Certain demands are made of a widower these days, and the ladies are expecting a good time."
They were greeted at the large rented hall with soft Christmas music. The room was lavishly decorated with hundreds of large, glittering snowflakes suspended from the ceiling. The reflective glow of the turning flakes cast the dimly lit room into a winter wonderland.
The hall was already crowded. Several others had arrived and were milling around, chatting in small groups and sipping champagne.
Evan Forsyth raised a welcoming hand when he saw Matthew and Karen enter, and walked purposefully toward them. The two men clasped hands with the enthusiasm of many years of devoted friendship.
Her father and Evan had been friends since their school days, and although they held separate stations in life, their friendship had never wavered. Evan Forsyth was the president of the University of Washington at Tacoma, an honored and respected man, while Matthew McAlister was a small-businessman dealing in plumbing supplies. For as long as Karen could remember, her father and godfather had played chess every Thursday night.
The annual party had begun many years before, when Karen and her sister, Judy, were small. Evan and Milly Forsyth invited a few intimate friends into their home to share the joy of the holiday season. Over the years, as Evan's position became prominent, the size of the affair had grown to include business friends and faculty members. This year, the party was so large the Forsyths had rented a hall, their spacious home no longer large enough to hold the growing number of guests.
"Welcome, welcome," Evan said and smiled warmly. His wife, Milly, followed close behind and embraced Karen fondly.
"I'm so pleased you could make it, my dear."
Evan leisurely surveyed Karen, noting how the red velvet gown molded to the slender curves of her womanly figure.
"I swear you get prettier every year, Karen," he said with a hug.
"And I swear your tongue grows smoother every year."
Evan chuckled with delight while Milly tucked an arm around Karen's waist to give her a slight hug. "He's right, dear. You look radiant. And your gown suits you beautifully."
Karen returned the hug and smiled. "It should, considering what I paid for it."
Karen had gasped when the salesclerk had told her the price, and disregarded the woman's complimentary words as an effective sales pitch. But now she willingly conceded that the effect of the simple but elegant style had been worth the price.
The four chatted until social obligations demanded the Forsyths' attention. After sampling several of the hors d'oeuvres and speaking with acquaintances, Karen and her father watched as the floor was cleared to make room for dancing.
Matthew surveyed the crowd while gently directing Karen as they danced the first waltz. His eyes glowed with amusement as he remarked, "There are several available men here. Take advantage of the opportunity to snare yourself a husband."
Karen stiffened and pulled away from her father.
Almost angrily, Matthew continued, "I can't understand what's the matter with men today. You're lovely, Karen."
"Dad, please " A note of helplessness entered her voice. Karen was so weary of this argument. A thousand times she'd explained that the problem wasn't with men; it was with her. So many of the men she'd dated over the years were self-centered and egotistical, seeking easy conquests and one-night stands. It was almost to the point that she'd rather not date at all. Her natural good looks and vivacious personality invited the attention. But Karen had yet to discover what it was about herself that attracted the least-desirable males.
"I'm perfectly content with my life as it is." Karen sighed with impatience, tilting her chin defiantly.
"But I want grandchildren."
"You have grandchildren," Karen reminded him coolly. "What do you call James and Carter?"
"I want a granddaughter." Matthew flashed her a disputatious look.
"Dad," Karen pleaded, "let's not argue tonight. You have grandchildren, and more than likely you'll have your precious granddaughter." Karen didn't know how much more she could endure. Matthew had applied constant pressure on her to marry for the past six months. The argument had nearly ruined their close relationship. Unable to endure his interference with her life, Karen had moved into her own apartment. It was a move long overdue. It'd been convenient to live at home and easy to rationalize her father's need for her after her mother's death. Much to her chagrin, Matthew sold their home and moved into an apartment in the same building as Karen. If anything, matters had gotten worse.
As they continued to waltz across the room, Karen caught sight of Mabel Jackson, an aging widow who'd made no effort to disguise her attraction to Matthew. Turnabout is fair play, she mused, and giggled devilishly.
"Do you find something amusing, lass?" Matthew asked curiously.
"No. Excuse me, Dad. I see someone I'd like to talk to." Cleverly, she wove her way through the thick couples toward the widow.
"Mrs. Jackson, you look lovely tonight," Karen greeted sweetly.
Mabel Jackson ignored the greeting and craned her long neck to stare into the dancing figures.
"Is your father here?" she asked with obvious interest.
"He sure is. In fact, it was my father who commented on how radiant you look. Dad said he'd never seen anyone more lovely."
"He did?" The woman beamed and smoothed the hairs of her lopsided wig.
"You know, Mrs. Jackson, my father is a lonely man. He'd never admit it, of course, but Dad needs a woman. A real woman." Karen stared into the crowd, unable to meet the widow's triumphant gaze.
Mabel Jackson positively glowed. "My dear child, I'm so glad we've had this little talk. Leave your father to me."
Karen smiled broadly and felt that even if she ended up disinherited, the taste of revenge was indeed sweet.
In a matter of minutes, several men were vying for Karen's attention. She danced with a number of partners, young and old, her infectious laughter ringing through the hall as she surrendered to a swelling tide of triumph. Not once was she interrupted by her father's forcing what he considered eligible men on her. An hour later, she managed to catch Matthew's eye and winked wickedly as he waltzed by in the arms of Mabel Jackson. Matthew cast her a look that threatened bodily harm, and Karen burst into helpless giggles.
A moment later, she caught sight of her father's angry stride as he wove through the crowd toward her. Wishing to avoid the taste of his Scottish temper, she hastily sought an escape. A curtained glass door leading to a balcony caught her attention. Unnoticed, she quietly slipped into the dark, leaving her father perplexed by her sudden disappearance.
Peering through the sheer curtain, Karen waited impatiently for Matthew to abandon his search.
"I beg your pardon," came a deep voice from behind her as she backed into a solid form.
"Oh! Excuse me." She fumbled and quickly straightened. "I didn't realize there was anyone out here."
"Obviously," came the clipped reply as he stared into the dark. Karen watched him for a few minutes, but he made no effort to meet her gaze.
"Would you mind sharing your hideaway for a minute?" she asked sweetly, and deliberately blinked her long, curling lashes at his impassive expression. Men were usually quick to respond to her expressive brown eyes.
"Suit yourself," he retorted unenthusiastically, and continued to stare into the night.
Undaunted by his lack of welcome, Karen joined him at the railing and searched the sky to discover what was so fascinating. The night was cold, crisp, and clear; the stars shone with a brilliant intensity.
"Leave it to my godfather to order a star display for the night of his party," Karen murmured. Her gaze returned to the stranger's face and swept his appearance. He wore a trim-fitting, dark wool suit that hugged his slim hips and long legs. The harsh contours of his face remained blank under her examination.
"Look!" Karen exclaimed, pointing her finger to the sky and counting the stars. "It's Perseus. I can't remember when I've seen the constellation stand out so clearly. You do see it, don't you?"
"No, I'm afraid I don't," he remarked dryly.
"Sure you do. Just look a little to your left," she persisted.
"Listen," he snapped impatiently, "whatever your name may be"
"Karen McAlister," she interrupted, "and you're ?"
"Randall Prescott," he replied in a voice that spoke plainly of trepidation.
"Well, look again. It's up there plain as day." She pointed to it again for his benefit. "Really, it's very clear, if you'll just look "
"Miss," Karen informed him cheerfully. "Miss McAlister." he tried again. "Please call me Karen."
Drawing in a breath as if to hold on to his limited patience, he began again. "Karen Miss McAlister whatever it is you wish to be called, I cannot view your precious Perseus, and I shall never view it. I'm blind!"
Karen felt the full impact of shock. After a moment of startled silence, she blurted out, "Oh, dear, Mr. Prescott, I do apologize."
"Randall," he interrupted.
"I had no idea, Randall. I."
"Please call me Rand," he taunted softly.
"All right, Rand," she replied, a smile evident in her voice, "but please accept my apology."
"An apology is unnecessary; my blindness cannot be attributed to your faults," he countered stiffly.
"No, of course not, but I was being obtuse."
He turned toward her then, allowing for the first time a clear view of his rugged features. He certainly didn't fit her image of what a blind man might look like. His face was boldly defined, almost ruthless. There was a magnetic quality about his dark brown eyes that captured her gaze.
"I don't suppose you came out here without your coat to view the stars?" he asked roughly, as if aware of her eyes studying him.
"How do you know I'm not wearing a coat?" she asked. Was this unnerving man playing her for a fool?
A sardonic smile touched the corners of his mouth. "I don't. But I suspect the slight quiver in your voice is from a chill."
Karen suddenly realized she was cold. Snoqualmie Falls was only a few minutes from the summit of Snoqualmie Pass, over the Cascades. The bitter December wind bit into her.
"Why are you hiding?" he asked, more gently. "Is someone bothering you?"
"Oh, heavens, no!" she quickly assured him, but paused. "Well, yes and no. I routed a persistent widow toward my father and was sure to taste his anger had I remained inside."
Rand smiled at her predicament, his roguish features relaxing his expression. "I'm sure the whole incident has been forgiven. You can't stay here. You'll freeze."
It was clearly a dismissal, and Karen felt strangely disappointed. She wanted to stay and learn more about this enigmatic stranger. He was the first man to really interest her in a long while. She hovered in the doorway, hoping to find an excuse to remain, but found none.
"Are you coming, too?"
"Later," he replied indifferently, and appeared bored with her company.
Karen could only leave. "Then perhaps we'll meet again," she said softly.
"It's unlikely," he mumbled, as if he hadn't intended her to hear. She watched as he returned to the railing.
Karen didn't immediately see her father once she'd entered the warmth of the large reception hall. Mrs. Jackson was standing near the orchestra, waving her hand impatiently in an attempt to gain the conductor's attention.
"Here you are."
The voice startled Karen, and she jerked around to see her godfather. "Uncle Evan." She placed a trembling hand over her heart to dramatize her fright. "You're worse than a thief in the night."
Evan Forsyth's eyes twinkled. "Your father's looking for you."
Karen lowered her gaze, a little ashamed of her ploy. As much as Matthew irritated her, she loved him and realized he had only her best interests at heart.
"I suppose he's still angry?" she asked.
"Let's put it this way," Evan said, chuckling. "He hasn't had a free second since you spoke with Mabel. He's hiding in the men's room. I think we'd better dance before he decides it's safe to return."
"Oh, dear, I'm in for it now," she mumbled as her godfather led her to the dance floor. It was a waltz, which gave her the opportunity to speak. "I'm afraid I made a blunder with one of your guests."
Evan's eyes rounded, feigning shock. "You seem to be making a night of it, my dear. Want to talk about it?" His position with the university and in the community made him a ready listener to the troubles of others.
Karen felt uneasy. "I'm afraid I literally bumped into Randall Prescott"
"Ah," Evan interrupted her. "I imagine he was rude. He tends to be the prickly sort. Damn good professor, though, the finest. We offer the best business program in the state due to him. Prescott could teach anywhere.