Cara Colter.

What A Woman Should Know






Was there any possibility that he could feel the same way about her that she did about him?

Of course not, Tally realized. J. D. Turner was the charter member of the Aint Getting Married, No Way, Never Club. And if he ever gave up his membership, it wouldnt be for a girl like her.

He leaned toward her and cupped her hand behind her head. She knew she should pull away. She knew that, and yet she greedily wanted every moment he would give her.

Their lips met.

All the controlwhich she had tried so hard all her life to haveevaporated, just like that. She felt her lips part at his gentle insistence.

His tongue explored the contours of her mouth until they were both panting with wanting, both of them unleashing that which had been so tightly leashed.

Desire.

Passion.

And the scariest thing of all: hope.

Dear Reader,

If youre like me, you cant get enough heartwarming love stories and real-life fairy tales that end happily ever after. Youll find what you need and so much more with Silhouette Romance each month.

This month youre in for an extra treat. Bestselling author Susan Meier kicks off MARRYING THE BOSSS DAUGHTERthe brand-new six-book series written exclusively for Silhouette Romance. In this launch title, Love, Your Secret Admirer (#1684), our favorite matchmaking heiress helps a naive secretary snare her bosss attention with an eye-catching makeover.

A sexy rancher discovers love and the son he never knew, when he matches wits with a beautiful teacher, in What a Woman Should Know (#1685) by Cara Colter. And a not-so plain Jane captures a royal heart, in To Kiss a Sheik (#1686) by Teresa Southwick, the second of three titles in her sultry DESERT BRIDES miniseries.

Debrah Morris brings you a love story of two lifetimes, in When Lightning Strikes Twice (#1687), the newest paranormal love story in the SOULMATES series. And sparks sizzle between an innocent curatorwith a big secretand the towns new lawman, in Ransom (#1688) by Diane Pershing. Will a seamstresss new beau still love her when he learns she is an undercover heiress? Find out in The Bridal Chronicles (#1689) by Lissa Manley.

Be my guest and feed your need for tender and lighthearted romance with all six of this months great new love stories from Silhouette Romance.

Enjoy!

Mavis C. Allen

Associate Senior Editor, Silhouette Romance

What a Woman Should Know
Cara Colter


www.millsandboon.co.uk

To my delightful nephew,

Chase Craig, with love

Books by Cara Colter

Silhouette Romance

Dare to Dream #491

Baby in Blue #1161

Husband in Red #1243

The Cowboy, the Baby and the Bride-to-Be #1319

Truly Daddy #1363

A Bride Worth Waiting For #1388

Weddings Do Come True #1406

A Babe in the Woods #1424

A Royal Marriage #1440

First Time, Forever #1464

*Husband by Inheritance #1532

*The Heiress Takes a Husband #1538

*Wed by a Will #1544

What Child Is This? #1585

Her Royal Husband #1600

9 Out of 10 Women Cant Be Wrong #1615

Guess Whos Coming for Christmas? #1632

What a Woman Should Know #1685

Silhouette Books

The Coltons

A Hasty Wedding

CARA COLTER

shares ten acres in the wild Kootenay region of British Columbia with the man of her dreams, three children, two horses, a cat with no tail and a golden retriever who answers best to bad dog. She loves reading, writing and the woods in winter (no bears).

She says lifes delights include an automatic garage door opener and the skylight over the bed that allows her to see the stars at night.

She also says, I have not lived a neat and tidy life, and used to envy those who did. Now I see my struggles as having given me a deep appreciation of life, and of love, that I hope I succeed in passing on through the stories that I tell.

J. D. Turners idea of

What a Woman Should Know

1) One should not settle for stainless-steel appliances instead of wild nights of passion.

2) Too many rules are damaging to a small boys spirit, to anyones spirit.

3) Germs are rarely deadly. Dog kisses are one of lifes delights.

4) Small boys (and big ones) need to get dirty.

5) Life needs to hold surprises.

6) Women who get married for security end up like dried old prunes who dont laugh enough and are prone to depression in their middle years.

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter One

John David Turner loved to sing. The louder the better. He loved to sing until the rafters rang with the sound of his voice, until the walls vibrated around him. He sang when he was happy, and today had been a damned good day, even if he had hurt his shoulder pulling the engine from Clyde Walterss 72 Mustang.

Of course, there was only one place a guy with a singing voice like hisraspy, out-of-key and thunderouscould make noise like that, and that was in the shower. J.D. was indulging himself now.

The hot water pounding down on him, soothing the ache in the shoulder muscle hed pulled, he belted out his all-time favorite tune. The bathroom was steamy, despite the wide open window, but he had a theory that steam greatly improved acoustics.

Annabel was a cow of unusual bovine beauty

He held the note at the end until it was wrenching, like the song of the coyotes that haunted the shrub and willow-filled gullies west of his place. Sometimes, like now in the early summer, when he finished that final gut-twisting note, drawing out beauteeeeeee endlessly, the coyotes even answered him.

So, he paused now to see if that would be the case.

Every window in his small house was open, letting the cool early evening air chase out the unusual heat of the day. His engine repair shop and house sat on the edge of town, just far enough out of Dancer, North Dakota, so that only the coyotes could hear him when he got in one of these I-gotta-sing moods.

But it wasnt the voices of coyotes he heard in the sudden void left by the absence of his voice. He heard a determined knocking on his front door.

He frowned, considering this breach of his privacy. He considered not answering the door. No one knew he sang. No one. Except once, a long time ago, in a moment of pure madness, he had sung a love song.

Dont go there, he told himself.

Though he tried to outwait it, the knocking continued on the front door.

J.D. turned off the shower and grabbed a towel. How could a person go from being so happy, to this in the blink of an eye?

Whether he was mad about remembering the love song, or mad because he had been caught singing, or mad because his intruder didnt have the good sense to go away, J.D. was just plain mad as he stomped across his bedroom, towel around his waist, dripping water on his carpets. Who the hell would dare to encroach on his most private moment?

Probably his pal Stan, the towns other bachelor and the only other charter member of the Aint Gettin Married, No Way, Never Clubknown by its initials A.G.M.N.W.N.C.who dropped by in the evenings, sometimes, with a couple of beers. Theyd spend the evening out in the shop tinkering on some old car. If it was Stan, it would be all over Dancer by tomorrow afternoon that J. D. Turner sang about cows in the shower.

Maybe that wouldnt be big news in most places, but Dancer was a little short on news, big or small. The most inconsequential snippets of private information could tear through the towns eight-block radius like wildfire.

J.D. had the lousy feeling he was going to be listening to cow jokes for a long, long time.

And, of course, if he asked Stan not to say anything, that would only make it worse.

On the other hand, if it was Stan, he could tell him about the progress hed made on the Mustang today. Would that be enough to wipe serenades to bovines right out of Stans head? Slightly cheered by the possibility he yanked open the door to his bedroom and marched into the hall.

Expecting Stan, J.D. skidded to a halt in the darkness of his hallway, and stared at the shapely silhouette framed in the last rays from a fading sun that spilled in the round oval screen of his outside front door.

She had turned away from the door, and was looking over the overgrown lilac hedge toward town, hugging herself against the little nip in the prairie breeze. She was wearing a pencil-line skirt that might have looked businesslike, if it hadnt been her. On her, that skirt hugged the seductive swell of hip and buttocks, showed off the long, sensuous line of her legs.

Oh yes. Even though her back was to him, he knew who it was.

Her blond hair shimmered in the last of the days light. It looked like it was in a bun, but some strands had broken free, and the breeze played with them, and they tickled and swayed on the slender column of her neck.

For a moment his mouth went dry, and he remembered the man he had been once, a long, long time ago, when he had sung a woman a love song.

He reminded himself, sharply, he was not that man any longer. He knotted the towel firmly around his waist, and strode down the hall.

Every step increased his fury.

Five years. Not so much as a goodbye. No letter. No phone call. No explanation at all. And then she just reappears in his life?

His plan was to slam the door, and lock it. Hed been bewitched by Elana Smith once and that was more than enough.

And so he was shocked when his fury propelled him past the interior door, right out the screen door, and onto the porch.

He was appalled when his anger spiked, overriding everything in him that was reasonable. He took the slenderness of her shoulder in his hand, and spun her around, and without fully registering the shock on her face, he pulled her hard into him, and kissed her.

It was not a hello kind of kiss.

It was a punishing kiss. Savage. It held the bitter sting of love betrayed, the hurt of five years of asking why. And it held the power of a man who been severely wounded on the battlefield of love, but who had survived, and let those festering wounds make him stronger, harder, colder than he ever had been before.

She was shoving against him, frantically, trying to escape his hold, his lips. He felt momentary satisfaction that her strength was so puny compared to his.

But then it registered, somewhere, peripherally, that something was wrong. Elana trying to escape his lips? She would have delighted in the savagery. She would have given back as good as she got. She probably would have drawn blood by now.

As he was arriving at these conclusions, he felt the woman surrender beneath the punishing onslaught of his lips. The struggle stopped.

He was contemplating this development, letting the doubt take hold where certainty had been, when she yanked free of him, and belted him up the side of his head with a purse that felt like it had a brick in it.

He staggered back from her and regarded her with narrowed eyes.

He felt as if hed been hit with more than a brick as he studied the exquisite face that looked back at him.

How dare you! she sputtered angrily, glaring at him, and then began wiping away at the front of her blouse, which was wet from his shower-damp skin, as if she could erase his touch from herself.

Oh, it was Elanas face, all right. Heart-shaped, exquisitely feminine, vaguely exotic. How well he remembered those linesthe incredible cheekbones, the pert nose, the faintly pointed chin.

But the how dare you in that clipped, tight tone was not Elana. The woman in front of him simply was not Elana.

Underneath the sooty sweep of thick lashes, he realized the eyes were a shade different. Elanas had been blue. These eyes were indigo, like the center of a violet-colored pansy.

Of course, with contact lenses, anything could happen, and he studied the woman more intently.

The anger and fear in her lovely eyes were real. And right behind them was softness. The same softness he had felt in those lips.

Not, on closer study, Elanas mouth either. Hers had been wide and sensual. This womans mouth was small, her lips little bows, puffy from being so thoroughly kissed.

He swore under his breath. Hed just kissed the living daylights out of a perfect stranger who had the bad luck to show up as he was remembering that he had once sung a love song. He crossed his arms over his naked chest.

It was obvious to him that she didnt like that he was only wearing a towel. She didnt like it one little bit. She was studying her blouse as though she expected daffodils to bloom from the bosom.

Youve ruined my blouse, she said, finally, her voice stiff with control. Its silk.

Yeah. I figured.

She gave him a look that said she didnt think he would know the first thing about silk, so of course he felt prodded to deepen the great first impression hed made.

Silk is always see-through when its wet, he said easily.

Her eyes grew very round. Her mouth formed an indignant O. She blushed, and crossed her arms over her breasts, snap, snap, like it was a military maneuver. By-the-numbers, cover chest.

Too late, he said. I saw it. Lace trim.

Oh! she said.

Dont hit me with that purse again, he warned her.

Well, then quit looking at me like that!

Like what?

She sputtered, Likelike a complete lizard.

J. D. Turner, avowed bachelor, still enjoyed the fact that his charms could turn heads and make hearts beat faster. A lizard? He could hardly believe his ears. He was tempted to kiss her again, even if it did earn him another wallop with the purse.

He studied her more closely.

Well, no wonder she was showing immunity to his charms. Her close physical resemblance to Elana had made him assume she was like Elana.

But a closer inspection showed she wasnt.

That blouse was buttoned right up to her throat. Her hair had been forced into a tight no-nonsense bun. Her makeup was understated. Her lips were pursed into an expression of disapproval that was distinctly schoolmarmish.

What can I do for you? he asked, curtly. She might not be Elana, but she was of Elana. A relative. Maybe a twin sister. No, a younger sister. But whoever she was, nothing about Elana was going to be good news. He felt that right down to his gut.

She released an arm from where it guarded her wet breast, and swiped at her lips as if removing germs from them. Her arm returned immediately to its guard position. Then she looked around, and he saw it register in her eyes that she was on the front porch of a strange house with a near-naked man who had just kissed her, and the nearest neighbor was not within shouting distance.

Under different circumstances, he most certainly would have tried to reassure her. But Elana meant danger.

Even if this woman in front of him looked like the least dangerous person in the world, he had tasted her lips. There was something in that kiss that was not nearly as cool as she was purporting to be.

Her hair, the color of ripening wheat, piled up primly, still framed a face so beautiful she could be mistaken for an angel. Of course, Elana could have been mistaken for an angel, too.

He saw now his visitor was slender. Elana had been slender, too, but somehow voluptuous at the same time. And Elana had liked the sexy look, miniskirts, black leather. His present visitors tailored suit reinforced that impression of a schoolmarm. The pastel blue reminded him of something his dental hygienist wore. The whole package screamed prim and proper, Mary Poppins arriving at her assignment.

Elana had not been prim and proper. Still, the danger crackled in the air around this less vivacious copy.

What can I do for you? he repeated, his voice deliberately cold.

Nothing, she decided. Ive made a mistake. She took a shaky step backwards, and then turned to flee.

He didnt honestly know whether he felt regret or relief that the mystery of his visitor was going to go unsolved.

He supposed he was leaning a bit toward regret, since he had to bite back the wait that wanted to pop out of his mouth.

In her haste to get away from him, she stumbled on the second stair. Instinct made him reach for her, but it was too late. She went flying; he could hear the dull thud of her head hitting the cement pad at the bottom of the steps.

He was at her side in an instant, animosity forgotten.

She looked at him, dazed. Dont touch me, she ordered groggily.

Her forehead was cut, a lump growing around the cut at an alarming speed.

Dont touch me, she ordered again, as he picked her up. She was so light, it didnt strain his hurt shoulder to lift her. Her weight was unexpectedly warm and sweet in his arms.

Put me down, she demanded, then had to close her eyes, the effort of making that small demand too much for her.

He ignored her, tried to ignore the fact the towel was slipping dangerously, and carried her back up the steps. He coaxed the screen door open with his toe, and went through to the kitchen. He set her in a chair, instantly feeling the cold where her warmth had puddled against his chest.

She tried to stand up. He noticed, even with all the excitement, she was managing to keep her wet chest protected from his gaze.

Sit, he ordered, sternly and then did some quick adjustments to the towel.

She gave him a defiant look, took one wobbly step toward the door, and then sank reluctantly back down in the chair. Her eyes darted around his kitchen, which was not in the running for a Better Homes and Gardens feature.

The room was plainly furnishedFormica table, steel-framed chairs with burgundy vinyl padding. His dishesthree or four days worthwere piled in the sink. Her gaze came to rest, with faint disapproval, on the engine he had taken apart on his countertop.

J.D. thought that was just like a woman to be noticing the decoratingor lack thereofat the very same time she was entertaining the idea she was in mortal danger.

His dog, Beauford, a nice mix between a coonhound and a basset, had been sleeping under the table. He chose that moment to rise on stubby legs, stretch his solid black, white and brown body, and then plop his huge head on her lap. He sniffed impolitely, blinked appealingly with his sad brown eyes, and began to drool.

She squealed, dropping her arms from their defense position across her chest, and pushed the dogs head out of her lap.

Filthy beast, she said, staring at the new wet spot on her pants.

Okay. J.D. could tolerate a lot, and he knew Beauford had a tendency to have bad breath, and he drooled, but that did not a filthy beast make. This was about as much of the home invasion as he could tolerate.

He held up his fingers. He would pronounce her medically sound, and then it was out of here for Miss Priss. Filthy beast, indeed. How many?

Three, she said, once again folding her arms over the wet spot on her blouse and glaring at him.

What day is it?

June 28.

What day were you born?

How would you know if I had that right?

Good point. And the fact that she could make it probably meant her brain wasnt too badly addled. Time to send her on her way.

But she looked like just the type who would sue if she ended up with a concussion or something so he reluctantly turned from her and got a pack of frozen peas out of the freezer compartment of his fridge. He placed it on the bump on her head, and held it. She closed her eyes, briefly, and then struggled to get up again.

Just relax, he said, holding her down with one finger on her shoulder. Im not going to hurt you.

Then why did you do that? she asked. Her bosom was heaving sweetly under the thin, wet blouse.

For a moment he thought she was accusing him of knocking her down the stairs. What exactly did I do? he snapped.

You kissed me!

Oh, that. He shrugged, as if it meant nothing, when in actual fact the taste of her lips was lingering sweetly on his mouth. I thought you were someone else.

She pondered that, and understanding dawned in the violet depths of her eyes. It was clear she now understood the passionate nature of his relationship with her look-alike.

You are Jed Turner, arent you?

He tried not to flinch when she said that. Only Elana had ever called him Jed. Everyone else called him J.D.

John, he corrected her. Or J.D. J. D. Turner.

Im Tally Smith. I believe you knew my older sister, Elana, she said, finding her voice, sticking her chin out at him as if to prove she wasnt afraid, when she was trembling like a leaf on a silver aspen.

He waited, holding the bag on her forehead, not having any intention of making anything any easier for her.

I knew her briefly. He kept his voice curt, devoid of emotion, not a hint in that cold tone of a man who had once sung a love song.

She took a deep breath, contemplated, and then plunged. She died.

Two words. He registered them slowly. And realized that for him, Elana had died a long time ago.

He didnt know what to say. That he was sorry? He was not sure that he was. He was glad when the phone rang, giving him a chance to think. He took Tally Smiths handwhich was small, and soft and warmand put it over the frozen bag of peas, then turned to the phone.

Mrs. Saddlechild? Yeah. Its ready. Ten bucks. Ill bring it over tomorrow. My pleasure. He hung up the phone, wishing it had been a longer call, maybe Clyde phoning to consult about the Mustang, something, anything, that required more of him.





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