Where and when you least expect it...love is there. Revising these two stories was a pleasureI hope you'll enjoy reading them.Wild And WonderfulIn the rugged mountains of West Virginia, a green and blooming spring means that journalist and photographer Glenna Reynolds is always outdoors. Jett Coulson is captivated by her wildflower beautybut the successful CEO knows his hard-driving ways won't win her gentle heart. The best strategy? Doing what comes naturally...Beware Of The Stranger
Writing a small-town gossip column is pure fun. But Samantha Gentry, the daughter of a famous father, is keeping her identity a secret. Not for long. Investigative reporter Chris Andrews is checking her out. And Chris thinks that smart and sexy Samantha is one hot item...
Remember when you first fell in love? It's time to get that feeling again. . .
|Product dimensions:||6.60(w) x 4.10(h) x 1.10(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
With This Kiss
By JANET DAILEY
ZEBRA BOOKSCopyright © 2007 Kensington Publishing Corp.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe fire red Porsche convertible hugged the twisting, curving road through the West Virginia mountainscape, a splash of scarlet on the gray ribbon of concrete winding through the spring green country. With the car's top down, the driver was exposed to the lingering sun and the billowing white clouds in the light blue sky.
Rounding a curve, Glenna Reynolds briefly lifted her face to the warmth of the sun. The teasing fingers of a speed-generated breeze tugged at her dark auburn hair, whirling its long curls away from her shoulders. A pair of owl-round sunglasses shielded her gray green eyes from the angling glare of the late-afternoon sun. Contentment born from a day spent pursuing journalistic pleasures was etched in her expressive features.
On the passenger seat of the sports car, a camera was concealed in its leather case, along with a notebook containing scribbled impressions. Together the two contained a collection of springtime images that continued to float in Glenna's mind.
The wildly beautiful mountains and valleys of West Virginia had revealed their May treasures to her. Wildflowers were blooming at their peak, from the delicate lady's slipper to the flame azalea, their multicolored displays of beauty now trapped on film. Jotted notations reaffirmed the camera's record of fox pups playing outside their den, tiny chipmunksdarting about the forest floor, and the young fawn camouflaged and hidden at a meadow's edge.
Noted, too, were the sensations of being able to hear the new leaves growing; the fragile spring green rivaled only by the flowering red maple. Another time the hush of the woods had been broken by the drumming of a ruffed grouse. The camera shutter hadn't been quick enough to catch the jeweled flash of a scarlet tanager flitting through the trees, but hastily scribbled phrases had recorded the sighting on the pages of her notebook.
Captivated by the charm of spring, Glenna had taken longer than she had intended. A glance at her watch increased the pressure of her foot on the accelerator pedal. The last thing she wanted was for her father to be concerned. She regretted that she hadn't left him a message warning him that she might be late.
Since his heart attack this last winter, his second one, Orin Reynolds had become more conscious of her absences from him. Her father's attitude came from an awareness of the shortness of his time to spend with her, something Glenna felt, as well. Even though he was as fully recovered as he would ever be, Glenna knew how slim the chance was that he would survive a third major attack.
She no longer took his presence in her life for granted and had adjusted her lifestyle and career to allow her more time with her father. When he had been released from the hospital this last time, Glenna had wanted to give up everything to stay at home and take care of him. Orin Reynolds had rejected this idea, insisting that a temporary nurse and their housekeeper/cook, Hannah Burns, could take good care of him. He wisely informed her that she would need to escape into her writing. His advice had over and over again proved to be correct. If she needed further proof of it, the exhilarating flow of thoughts and ideas from today's outing provided it.
Braking, Glenna slowed the car to make the turn onto the graveled lane leading to the large white house nestled on the mountain slope amid the trees. It was a graceful old building, once the main house of a large estate, but the fertile valley land had been sold off some years ago. All that remained of the former land was the immediate grounds of the house and the few acres surrounding it.
Glenna recognized the car parked in the driveway and smiled wryly. Although the doctor had limited the amount of time Orin Reynolds was allowed to spend at the office of his coal-mining operation to three days a week, her father had insisted on daily reports when he wasn't there. Bruce Hawkins's car was therefore a familiar sight.
The garage was separate from the house, a small stable converted some sixty years ago to hold cars. Its double set of doors beckoned to the red Porsche, but Glenna stopped the car short. There was time enough later to put it away.
Tipping her sunglasses atop her head, she grabbed the camera case and notebook from the passenger seat and left the car keys in the ignition for the time being. Her long legs swiftly climbed the veranda's steps to the front door.
She entered the foyer, pushing the door shut behind her and turning toward the study that had originally been the front parlor of the old house. The solid oak doors slid open at the touch of her hand, bringing the conversation within to an abrupt end.
Her heart was squeezed by the harrowed and worried lines that aged her father's face twenty years. The instant his gaze landed on her face, his expression underwent a transformation; the tension smoothing into a welcoming smile of false unconcern. This sudden masking of his feelings puzzled and frightened Glenna. What was he trying to hide?
Walking toward his chair, Glenna smiled while her eyes searched his face. But her poker-playing father revealed none of his inner thoughts. If she had knocked at the study door she wouldn't have seen that brief glimpse of his inner anxiety.
"Did you start to wonder where I was?" Her voice was cheerful as she placed her camera and notebook on the sturdy oak desk before she reached his chair. Resting a hand on the chair arm, Glenna bent down to kiss his pallid cheeks, a color that had become natural to his complexion.
"I didn't," he insisted with a bright sparkle in his eyes. "I knew you would wander in sooner or later, but I think Bruce was becoming concerned."
Glenna straightened and looked in the direction her father had glanced. Bruce Hawkins was standing beside the fireplace, a shoulder leaning against the marble mantelpiece. His blue gaze was warmly admiring, taking in the wind-tossed curls of her chestnut hair, the loose-fitting velour sweater the color of buttercream that was draping the swelling mounds of her breasts, and the slimness of her hips and long legs in her brushed-denim jeans. The appreciation in his look held a hint of reserve, out of respect for her father's presence.
"Where have you been?" Bruce asked. There was nothing interrogating in it, just casual interest.
"Communing with Mother Nature," Glenna replied. Her gray green eyes swept his straw-colored hair and square-jawed face. Bruce was good-looking, intelligent, and ambitious. Since her father's first attack more than two years ago, he had assumed more and more responsibility for the operation of the coal mine.
It was really only after her father's first heart attack that Glenna had become acquainted with Bruce. The relationship between them had grown slowly until it had reached its present point where they were more than friends but not quite lovers.
Glenna was fully aware that she was the one who wouldn't let their relationship progress any further. On the surface, Bruce was everything she wanted in a man, yet some vital ingredient seemed to be missing. Its lack kept her from making any firm commitment. Sometimes she thought it was loyalty to her father that made her hold back. Maybe she was afraid of leaving him so soon after her mother's death to pursue her own life, her own relationship. Other times, like now, Glenna simply didn't know exactly why she was reluctant. She knew that one word from her, one indication of acceptance, and Bruce would propose.
"Communing with nature," Bruce repeated her answer. "With your eye on the plan to write a series of articles, I'll bet."
"You guessed right," Glenna agreed. "That's one thing about freelancing; I can slant an article in so many different ways that I can sell the same story line to several different publications."
"And your head is buzzing with all of the ideas," her father mused.
The softness of her throaty laugh was an affirmative answer, although a whole new set of thoughts had subsequently taken the place of her ideas for the nature-oriented articles.
"There's some coffee in the pot. Would you like a cup?" Bruce offered, moving to the china coffee service sitting on the oblong coffee table in front of the sofa.
Glenna briefly resented his hospitality in what was her home, but she suppressed it. Bruce's familiarity was something both she and her father had invited. Besides, he was just being thoughtful. She wondered at her sudden sensitivity to the situation.
"I'd love some, thank you." She took a seat on the sofa while he poured a cup and handed it to her. Black, with no sugar, the way she liked it. Bruce sank his lean frame onto the cushion beside her, his arm automatically seeking the backrest of the sofa behind her head, but he didn't touch her.
"How are things at the mine?" Glenna asked automatically because it was Bruce's province.
She glanced over the rim of her coffee cup in time to see Bruce dart a sharp look at her father. Then he replied, too blandly, "Fine."
Instantly, she knew there was a problem. A serious one. She sipped at her coffee, while her mind raced back to the anxious expression on her father's face when she had entered the room.
"I invited Bruce to dinner tonight," her father said with a subtle change of subject. "Hannah assured me the main dish would stretch to feed four. I can never decide whether she is trying to fatten us up or feed an army. The woman always cooks enough for ten people."
"Heaven knows you need some fattening up," Glenna observed. Recent weight loss had made his usually brawny frame appear gaunt. She knew he disliked any discussion of his health and turned to Bruce. "Are you are staying?"
"I never turn down an invitation for a home-cooked meal or the company of a lovely woman." There was a flattering intensity of to his look.
"I'll have to warn Hannah that you have designs on her, and her cooking," Glenna teased.
Bruce chuckled and the movement of her father's hand distracted her attention. He was reaching automatically into the breast pocket of his shirt. Orin Reynolds had quit smoking after his first heart attack. Only in moments of severe stress did the habit reassert itself. His shirt pocket no longer held a pack of cigarettes. Glenna noticed the faint tremor of his hand when it was lowered to the armrest. It was not a withdrawal symptom from smoking.
"After two years, you can't still want a cigarette, Dad," she chided to make him aware she'd seen him. Just for a second the facade of well-being slipped to reveal an expression that appeared supremely tired and defeated. A chill raced down Glenna's spine at the sullenness in his gray eyes before he laughed gruffly. Something was very wrong.
"After two years I am still craving the taste of tobacco. There are times when heaven to me is a smoke-filled poker room with whiskey and cigarettes amid a raucous backdrop of fiddle music instead of fluffy clouds, halos, and harps," he joked. "There are times when the quality of life outweighs the quantity."
Glenna forced a smile. "That is a rather morbid observation, Dad." She saw the grain of truth in his words, but her father had always been a fighter, battling the odds stacked against him. His remark, issued in jest, had smacked of surrender. "I suppose it is, but sometimes I ..." He stopped and sighed. His mouth twitched into a rueful smile, vitality dancing back to glitter in his eyes. "I guess I'm tired."
"Why don't you lie down for a few minutes before dinner?" Glenna suggested. "I'll keep Bruce company."
"Did you hear that, Bruce?" her father mocked. "She sounds so concerned about me, doesn't she? But a father knows when his daughter doesn't want him around."
Her fingers tightened on the curved handle of her coffee cup. It was all she could do to not leap to her feet to help her father out of the chair. He hated any acknowledgment of the weakness of his muscles. It was a slow process, but he rose, unaided, to walk stiffly from the room.
Her throat was hurting by the time she heard the study door slide shut behind him. She stared at the coffee in the china cup she was holding so tightly. There was a stony clarity to her eyes-eyes that had become strangers to tears.
"What is wrong at the mine, Bruce?" she demanded without looking up.
A second of pregnant silence was followed by a hollow laugh. "I don't know what you're talking about. Nothing is wrong at the mine."
"It must be very serious for both you and Dad to lie to me." Glenna set the cup on the table with a briskness that rattled it against its saucer. She rose abruptly and dislodged the sunglasses from their perch on her head. She removed and folded them with a decisive snap before setting them on the table, too.
Her heavy, eyelash-fringed eyes narrowed their gaze on Bruce. "I want to know what it is."
"There isn't anything you can do." He looked grim.
"You don't know that," she retorted. "I haven't heard talk of a strike. And I can't believe the miners would walk out on Dad like that, anyway. If it's a labor problem, surely Dad can iron it out if you can't."
"It isn't labor." He avoided her gaze, his jaw hardening.
Glenna frowned. With that possibility eliminated, she was at a loss. "Then what is it? You're a mining engineer so it can't be anything technical."
"It's the government." That his skill was being questioned forced Bruce into giving the reason.
"What? Taxes?" She couldn't imagine her father being delinquent in employee taxes.
"Nothing so simple," Bruce replied and pushed to his feet. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his slacks, an action that pushed his shoulders back and stretched the material of his blue shirt across the sinewed width of his chest. "The mine failed its safety inspection."
"How bad is it?" Glenna asked, the feeling of dread sweeping over her.
"They're issuing an injunction to shut the mine down within thirty days if the necessary steps aren't taken immediately to correct the situation," he answered in a voice as leaden as her own.
"You can appeal the ruling and gain more time," she argued.
"That's what I've been doing for the last year and a half," he snapped in a sudden blaze of temper. "We ran out of time. They won't postpone the ruling anymore."
Parallel furrows ran across her forehead. "If you knew it was coming, why did you procrastinate?" Glenna challenged. "Why did you leave it until the last minute? I guess you just dumped this all on Dad this afternoon, when it's practically too late to do anything to stop it. No wonder he acted so defeated. He isn't well. He trusted you to-" "Orin has known from the start!" Bruce interrupted sharply. "If it was up to me, I would've begun implementing and installing new safety measures. But I didn't have a say in the matter."
"Are you implying that my father knowingly endangered the lives of the miners?" The accusation brought a pronounced silver glitter to her eyes, making them icy and more gray than green.
"For God's sake! He had no more choice in the matter than I did."
He turned away to rest an arm on the mantel of the fireplace, bending his head to rub his hand over his mouth and chin in a gesture of exasperation.
Her anger ebbed. "What do you mean? Why didn't he have a choice?" Glenna frowned. "You said yourself that the solution was to comply."
"That costs money, Glenna." Bruce sighed and straightened to look at her. "That's why the initial ruling was appealed to gain time to raise the capital to make the changes and install the necessary devices."
"He could borrow it. The bank would loan him the-"
"No. Orin took out second and third mortgages on everything he owned almost three years ago to make other needed changes at the mine. There was a time he could've borrowed on his reputation alone, but after these last two heart attacks"-Bruce filled the pause with an expressive shrug of his shoulders-"the banks think of him as an uninsurable risk with overextended credit."
Glenna felt chilled and struggled against the dark despair clouding her mind. Her gaze clung to Bruce's handsome features.
"There has to be someone who will help Dad." She tried to sound calm, and not nearly as desperate as she felt.
Her mind was churning with thoughts. If the mine was closed it would ultimately mean bankruptcy. They would lose the house and everything of value. The effect this would have on her father was something Glenna didn't want to contemplate. She barely succeeded in suppressing a shudder.
Excerpted from With This Kiss by JANET DAILEY Copyright © 2007 by Kensington Publishing Corp.. 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.