Hers To Remember
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“We can’t make love yet, sunshine.”
Adrienne blushed. “Is that what you think this is about? That I’m begging you to make love to me?”
“I think you’re scared.” Sam replied. “You’re grabbing for all the life you can. Making love is the most life affirming act there is.”
She shook her head. “No…”
“Yes.” He pulled her against him, knowing she would feel his desire. “I do want you. But knowing you want me isn’t enough. You have to start remembering first. I need to know you want me as the man you love.” He ran his hand down her back, glorying in and dreading the telltale shiver he felt against him. “There’s nothing I want more than to make love to you.”
Adrienne’s green eyes had darkened, indicating clearly that she wanted him, too.
“Kiss me, Sam. I really need you to kiss me.”
Dear Harlequin Intrigue Reader,
This month, some of your favorite Harlequin Intrigue authors—and a first-timer—deliver a killer selection of books for you to enjoy.
Amanda Stevens closes the case in the final installment of her GALLAGHER JUSTICE miniseries with Nick Gallagher’s story, Forbidden Lover (#557). The Gallagher brothers were born to serve and protect, and three more sexy lawmen you’d be hard-pressed to find. If you missed the first two books, be sure to let us know!
In her twentieth 43 LIGHT STREET title, Ruth Glick writing as Rebecca York scorches some paper with Never Too Late (#558), the steamy story of Scott O’Donnell and Mariana Reyes. Harlequin Intrigue is proud to bring you this terrific ongoing series and we thank you for making it one of our most popular features.
Also, this month, Patricia Rosemoor—Harlequin Intrigue’s most-published author—launches her very own miniseries, SONS OF SILVER SPRINGS. Sometimes it takes a family tragedy to bring siblings back together. But nothing is thicker than blood. Meet the Quarrels brothers in Heart of a Lawman (#559).
Finally, newcomer Karen Lawton Barrett contributes her first title to Harlequin Intrigue. We know you’ll love Hers To Remember (#560) for its emotional drama and highly charged suspense. Hang on to your seats when you read this A MEMORY AWAY… story!
Take home all four books for an exhilarating rush of romance.
Associate Senior Editor
Hers To Remember
Karen Lawton Barrett
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Lawton Barrett was raised in a small town in central California, where one of her elementary school teachers once wrote on a report card, “Karen daydreams too much.” These days she uses her active imagination to create romantic suspense stories.This is her first book for Harlequin Intrigue. It is set on the Monterey Peninsula, the Barrett family’s favorite destination for Sunday drives, kite flying and picnics on the beach.
Books by Karen Lawton Barrett
560—HERS TO REMEMBER
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Amy Donnelly—For three years, she had everything but a past.
Adrienne Winston—She has a husband she doesn’t remember marrying, carries a child she can’t remember conceiving and may lose them both unless she can unlock the secret to her past.
Sam Donnelly—He knew one day his wife might remember her past, but he never expected her to forget him.
Casey Donnelly—A devoted brother, a dedicated cop, but even his years of training might not be enough to save his brother’s family from a monster.
Vaughn Winston—He’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants.
Ginger Zane—Amy’s friend—or is she?
Barry Owen—He knew too much and had to die.
To my friends, Courtney and Gail,
my best reader and my best fan,
And to my husband, Phillip,
always and forever.
She fought wakefulness as long as she could, fearing what she might face. But the pain in her head forced her from her sleep. It pounded against her skull, an unrelenting hammer.
She kept her eyes closed and tried to will it away. A useless endeavor, the effort only made it worse.
Exhausted, she lay absolutely still and tried to relax. Even the act of breathing in and out made her feel as if she’d been strapped to some medieval torture device. She knew she needed to do something, but what, when even the tiniest movement sent pain screaming through her head?
Aspirin might help, though it seemed a pitiful answer. If only she could reach her purse. Gathering what strength she could find, she willed herself to move.
Voices dashed her effort. Fear warred with pain. As hard as she’d tried to move, she now concentrated on remaining motionless.
The hushed whispers faded in and out and came from different directions, as if the people who spoke moved around her.
“How is she? Will she be all right?” a new voice demanded. It sounded deep and male and edged with panic. “She’s got to be all right!”
“She’s still unconscious,” another man answered. “Now that you’re here, I’m sure she’ll respond. But you have to be calm.”
Their voices sounded distorted to her ears, as if the men who spoke stood at one end of a tunnel and she at the other. Who were they? she thought frantically. Not him. She would have known his voice anywhere. Wouldn’t she?
Someone took her hand. Her stomach dropped. I can’t move. I can’t let him know. Then she realized that the hand engulfing hers was big and roughened by work. Relief made her dizzy. Not his hand. Manual labor was beneath him.
“Open your eyes, sunshine. It’s time to wake up,” a deep, gentle voice urged. “Come on, honey, open your eyes and look at me.”
The underlying note of desperation made her try all the harder to respond. She had to wake up. To get up, and run. She wasn’t dead. Once he found out…She tried to lift her eyelids, but they felt weighted. She sobbed. How would she lift her legs if she couldn’t even do that much?
“Everything will be all right, darling. I promise. Now, open those beautiful green eyes for me.”
Since opening her eyes seemed futile, she tried to squeeze the hand that still held hers. Her fingers felt boneless. What’s wrong with me? she cried, but the words sounded only in her mind.
“What about the baby?” the man asked.
Baby? What baby?
“They did an ultrasound. The baby’s fine,” the other man answered, his tone calm and somehow professional-sounding. “But the doctor says she probably has a concussion.”
Panic seized her. There can’t be a baby. I’ve been so careful. It’s impossible.
“I should never have gone to that trade show.”
“You can’t seriously be blaming yourself for her accident. She slipped on a cord and hit her head on the vacuum.”
“I should have hired a housekeeper, then she wouldn’t have been vacuuming.”
The words swirled around her. None of them made sense. Vacuuming? She hadn’t been vacuuming. She’d been running, afraid he’d found her in spite of all she’d done to get away.
“You have to calm down, Sam. This isn’t going to help any of you.”
Sam? Who was Sam?
“Don’t you understand? I could lose her and the baby, because of my own stupidity!”
Oh, God, a baby! He’d never let her go now. “Please, no baby, no baby.” She’d finally found her voice, though she spoke in a mere whisper.
A hand cupped her face. “Shh, honey, the baby will be fine, and so will you. I’m going to take care of you both.”
I won’t be fine. Not if I’m pregnant. A dream, that’s it! This has to be a dream. Or a nightmare. My worst nightmare. Oh, God, I tried so hard. Please, God, please let me wake up.
“Come on, sunshine, that’s it. I’m right here.”
The voice drew her. Slowly, she opened her eyes. A man’s face hovered above her. At first creased with concern, it soon brightened with a relieved smile. And she knew God had answered her prayers. For this was truly the face of an angel.
Golden hair fell across his tanned forehead. Deep blue eyes the color of twilight sparkled with tears of joy. “Hi, sunshine.” He touched her face with gentle fingers. Then he turned his head. “Get the doctor.”
“Am I dead?” she asked the golden angel who touched her so tenderly.
He smiled down at her. “No, thank God, you’re alive. And now that you’re awake, you’re going to feel better every minute.”
She believed him. He sounded so sure, so confident. She wished she felt the same.
She licked her dry lips. “What happened? Where am I?”
“In the hospital. You had an accident. Can you remember?”
The door opened and a man walked into the room. Tall, with reddish-blond hair, and nearly as handsome as the man sitting at her side, he grinned. “Well, it’s about time you woke up, little sister. The doc will be here in a minute.”
Little sister? Why would he call her that? She didn’t have a brother. She looked from one man to the other and felt only confusion. She didn’t know these men. They looked as though they could be brothers. But not hers. She was an only child.
“Casey’s the one who found you,” explained the man who’d called her sunshine. She guessed that made him Sam. “Can you remember what happened?”
She took in the concern on both men’s faces and wanted to cry. Who were they? Why were they here? What did these strangers care what had happened to her? She didn’t want to be so suspicious, but thanks to Vaughn, she didn’t know who to trust anymore. She searched her memory, trying to remember what had put her in the hospital.
“Don’t strain yourself, sweetie. We have plenty of time,” Sam said gently.
“I’m okay,” she assured him. “But I’d like to sit up a little.” The sooner she got back to normal, the better. She couldn’t fight Vaughn if she didn’t know what had happened.
He pushed a button on the side of the bed that raised the mattress behind her back. The movement caused the pain to intensify. She closed her eyes until the dizziness went away.
The memory came suddenly. “I was running.”
“Running? Was the phone ringing?”
“No, I was outside. It was dark, so dark. There was no moon. I could barely see. I must have stumbled over something. There were lights, bright lights, blinding me. Then I fell…That’s all I remember.” She reached up to touch her forehead and felt a bandage instead of skin. “I guess I must have hit my head.”
She recalled one of the men saying something about a concussion. No wonder her head hurt so much. She closed her eyes, trying to remember what had happened next.
A voice, a man’s voice. “Someone leaned over me and asked me if I was all right.” She opened her eyes to gaze at the man who held her hand. “The voice, it sounded like yours,” she said, not sure whether to be relieved or frightened. She still didn’t know who this beautiful man was or what connection he had to her. “Were you the one who found me?”
“Yes, I found you,” he said.
The strange look on his face caused her suspicion to heighten. Could this man be one of his? “Why are you looking at me like that?”
The snap in her voice seemed to startle him. “Amy, I…”
The name confused her. Her name wasn’t Amy. “Why did you call me that?”
He looked just as confused as she felt. If he’d been one of the people who’d been following her, wouldn’t he know her name? “My name’s not Amy. It’s Adrienne…Adrienne Winston.”
“Adrienne Winston?” He said it as if he’d never heard it before. “Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure.” She might have been confused by these strangers who’d shown up in her room, but she did know her own name.
“Sam, can I talk to you outside?” Casey asked, his voice still calm and professional-sounding.
A silent message seemed to pass between the two men. “Sure,” Sam said. “Why don’t you wait for me in the corridor.”
Casey nodded, then turned and left the room.
The strange exchange brought her confusion back full force. “What’s going on?”
The door opened again before he could reply to her demand. A petite woman walked in. Her tightly braided coal-black hair hung over one shoulder to her waist. She wore a white lab coat over a red sweater, slacks and a stethoscope around her neck. She walked over to the side of the bed, smiled and held out her hand. “I’m Dr. Yamana. It’s nice to see you awake, Mrs. Delaney. Your husband has been very worried about you.”
Adrienne stared at the doctor, confusion warring with fear. She’d called her Mrs. Delaney. Why? Hadn’t Vaughn told them who she was? The doctor had said her husband was worried. How could they think he was her husband and not know her name?
She looked over at the door. Where was Vaughn? Why hadn’t he come in when the doctor had been called? Her heart began to race. Maybe he wasn’t here. She turned to the doctor. “I have to get out of here.”
“All in good time,” the doctor said, ignoring her rudeness. She took a small black instrument out of her pocket. “I need to look in your eyes. The light might bother you, but it will only take a second.”
“Dr. Yamana, there’s something I need to tell you,” Sam said.
“Why don’t you wait for me outside? This won’t take long.”
“Please, Doctor, it’s important.”
The doctor smiled at him. “Five minutes, tops. I promise.”
When he moved toward the door, Adrienne felt a flash of panic. “Please, don’t go.” He’d taken care of her after the accident. His presence had made her feel safe somehow. If he left, the feeling of safety would leave, too. It had been so long since she’d felt even a modicum of security, she wasn’t willing to give it up. “Please.”
He smiled reassuringly. “I need to talk to Casey. You heard what the doctor said, five minutes, tops.”
“All right.” She didn’t like it. Vaughn could arrive at any minute. Vulnerability overwhelmed her. Cooperate, she told herself. It’s the only thing that’s going to get you out of this place.
Finishing her examination a few moments later, Dr. Yamana stood back and smiled. “I think you’re going to be just fine. But you do show signs of a slight concussion. I’d like to keep you overnight for observation.”
“I can’t stay!” The words burst out of her. In this hospital bed, she’d be a sitting duck.
“You were a very lucky woman, Mrs. Delaney,” Dr. Yamana said, her tone grave. “You and your baby are just fine. But an injury like this is a shock to the system. It will be safer for both of you if you get some extra rest.” A gentle smile lightened her serious expression. “Now, I need to ask you some questions.”
“Questions?” She had a few of her own. Like why did this woman keep calling her Mrs. Delaney? And where was Vaughn? Did he know about the baby? What had he told the doctor? Could she be trusted?
“Don’t look so worried.” The doctor’s calm voice cut through her thoughts. “It’s a routine part of the examination when there’s been a blow to the head. First, tell me your full name.”
In spite of the doctor’s professional manner, Adrienne hesitated. Should she tell her the truth? If she didn’t, and Vaughn had already gotten to her, she would know if Adrienne lied. Still, Sam had called her Amy. The doctor kept calling her Mrs. Delaney. Maybe…
The doctor’s beeper sounded. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’ll have to take care of this.”
Adrienne nodded, relieved to have more time to decide what to tell the doctor.
“I’ll send your husband in to keep you company until I get back.”
Adrienne’s relief vanished. “No! Don’t do that.”
The mild shock in Dr. Yamana’s expression told Adrienne she had to come up with a reasonable explanation for her outburst. She closed her eyes against the very real pain in her head. “My head aches. I’d really like to rest a little, if that’s all right.”
Dr. Yamana patted her hand. “Of course, it’s probably the best thing for you right now. I’m sorry I can’t give you anything for the pain. Just try to relax. I’ll be back to finish my examination as soon as possible.”
After the door closed behind the doctor, Adrienne allowed herself a sigh of relief. That was close. Thank God, the doctor had accepted her explanation.
She sat up slowly, then turned so she could dangle her feet over the side. She rested for a moment while the dizziness subsided. She had to get out of here. Everyone she’d dealt with seemed to think she was someone else. She might be able to keep that up for a while, even though she’d already told Sam her real name. She could fake amnesia, tell him she didn’t know where the name had come from. But what if he was in on it? Was that the reason Vaughn hadn’t show up yet?
No, she had to leave. She stood on the floor, holding on to the bed while she tested her balance. She looked around for a closet and found it. If the closet contained her clothes, it would make it much easier to escape. She didn’t see them letting her out of the hospital dressed in this flimsy excuse for a nightshirt.
She moved step by step across the room. Her head hurt so much she was afraid any abrupt movement would make her pass out. She opened the door to reveal a pair of light blue jeans, a purple sweater, and a pair of white sneakers. None of the clothing looked familiar, but that couldn’t matter to her now. She had to leave as soon as possible.
She dressed as quickly as her aching head would allow. Every time she heard voices outside the door, she’d stop and listen, sure that any moment someone would catch her before she could make her escape.
Finally ready, she tiptoed to the door, opened it an inch and looked out. Once she ascertained that no one waited just outside, she opened the door wider and stepped from the room.
A candy striper came out of the room next door, making Adrienne’s heart pound in her chest. But the girl only smiled and continued on her way.
Seeing a sign that read Stairs, Adrienne headed for it. The pain in her head demanded an elevator, but she knew the stairway offered a safer exit.
Before she pushed open the heavy door, she looked around to make sure no one saw her. The deserted hallway eased her mind. She went through, making sure the door made no noise when it closed behind her.
Pain shot through her skull. She grabbed the railing to steady herself. She stood with eyes closed, waiting for the pain to pass. It could have been a moment or an hour. Time had lost its meaning.
When she could finally lift her lids, she saw the number two printed on the wall above her head. Grateful she had to walk down only one flight, she moved slowly down the steps.
Her luck held. She reached the bottom without seeing another soul and without losing consciousness. Although it had been touch-and-go there for a moment about halfway down.
She pushed the exit door open to find it led directly to the outside of the hospital.
She looked around. To her right was a parking lot, to her left a sidewalk lined with the cypress trees she’d thought so impressive when she’d arrived in Monterey. The light fog drifting around the trees made her shiver.
California had symbolized escape for her, being a whole country away from Boston. But once she’d arrived, she had fallen in love at first sight with the Central Coast. Now, Vaughn had ruined even that for her.
She breathed in the cool air in an attempt to clear her mind. It helped somewhat, but her head still ached.
For want of a better plan, she decided to start walking. She set off down the sidewalk in the direction she hoped would take her downtown. She could get a cab there. With each step she tried to remember the name of the hotel she’d checked into. Telling the taxi driver that it was near the beach wouldn’t do much good.
Fatigue set in almost immediately. Each foot she walked felt like a yard, each yard like a block. The hammering inside her head became intense. Her mouth felt dry, her body numb. She wanted a drink and a bed, not necessarily in that order. She glanced up, trying to get her bearings, and spotted a diner about a half block up the street.
Well, they wouldn’t have a bed, but they would have something to drink. She searched the pockets of her jeans and came up with three dollar bills. Hallelujah! A nice, cold soft drink would set her back on her feet.
Jubilant, she covered the half block as quickly as her tired legs would take her. Inside, she asked the waitress for a booth at the back and ordered a large cola. The drink served, she took a long sip, then laid her head against the back of the seat and closed her eyes. She had to remember the name of the motel.
SAM RETURNED to Amy’s room a half hour after he’d left it. Dr. Yamana had told him to let her rest, but he couldn’t stand the waiting any longer. After what had happened to her when he’d left her alone last time, he didn’t want her out of his sight. Especially since she thought she was someone called Adrienne Winston. Where in heaven’s name had she picked up that?
He pushed the door open quietly and moved into the room, being careful not to wake her. A curtain shielded the bed from his sight. He tiptoed around it, then stopped abruptly. She wasn’t there.
Sam didn’t know how long he stared at the empty bed. Probably only seconds. Long enough for the panic that had dissipated when Amy had opened her eyes to return full force. “Where the hell is she?”
Silence was his only answer as he searched the floor on each side of the bed, then the bathroom. “I knew I shouldn’t have left her alone.” He exited the room and strode to the nurse’s station. Two women sat going over a patient’s chart. “Where is Amy Delaney?” he demanded, causing them to jump.
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