When I Dream Of Youñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
Why her? Why now? Kyle asked himself.
It was a mystery, part of the larger one he was trying to solve—about his father and her mother, her grandfather and his grandmother.
Danger swirled around him like a fatal cloud of poison. But Megan didn’t taste like poison; she tasted like honey, sweet and tempting.
He touched her and felt flames leap, part of him suddenly aching for things he couldn’t name. He felt a tremor run through her, and he shuddered, lost to reason, as desire flamed higher for this woman, this lovely enemy who made him forget the past and ignore the future.
“It’s hell,” he heard himself say, “this wanting.”
“Yes, I know,” Megan answered feverishly. “To find this now, with you…”
“The enemy,” he whispered, finishing the unthinkable thought.
International bestselling author Diana Palmer needs no introduction. Widely known for her sensual and emotional storytelling, and with more than forty million copies of her books in print, she is one of the genre’s most treasured authors. And this month, Special Edition is proud to bring you the exciting conclusion to her SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE series. The Last Mercenary is the thrilling tale of a mercenary hero risking it all for love. Between the covers is the passion and adventure you’ve come to expect from Diana Palmer!
Speaking of passion and adventure, don’t miss To Catch a Thief by Sherryl Woods in which trouble—in the form of attorney Rafe O’Donnell—follows Gina Petrillo home for her high school reunion and sparks fly…. Things are hotter than the Hatfields and McCoys in Laurie Paige’s When I Dream of You—when heat turns to passion between two families that have been feuding for three generations!
Is a heroine’s love strong enough to heal a hero scarred inside and out? Find out in Another Man’s Children by Christine Flynn. And when an interior designer pretends to be a millionaire’s lover, will Her Secret Affair lead to a public proposal? Don’t miss An Abundance of Babies by Marie Ferrarella—in which double the babies and double the love could be just what an estranged couple needs to bring them back together.
This is the last month to enter our Silhouette Makes You a Star contest, so be sure to look inside for details. And as always, enjoy these fantastic stories celebrating life, love and family.
Karen Taylor Richman
When I Dream of You
To my family (both in-laws and out-laws)
for help with “best-laid plans.” See you at the reunion!
says, “In the interest of authenticity, most writers will try anything…once.” Along with her writing adventures, Laurie has been a NASA engineer, a past president of the Romance Writers of America, a mother and a grandmother.
She was twice a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist for Best Traditional Romance and has won awards from Romantic Times Magazine for Best Silhouette Special Edition and Best Silhouette. Recently resettled in Northern California, Laurie is looking forward to what-ever experiences her next novel will send her on.
M egan Windom kept the smile on her face as she and her partner dipped and swayed to the rhythm of the first waltz of the wedding reception. Tears pressed close to the surface and she didn’t know why. It was a happy occasion—the wedding of her cousin, Shannon, who was also her best friend, to Rory Daniels, another lifelong friend.
Turning her head, she quickly slid her gaze past her partner’s angular, unsmiling face. Kyle Herriot, her enemy, son of the man who had caused her mother’s death, met her brief look without a flicker of emotion in his eyes.
The fact that Kyle’s father had also died in the sailing accident didn’t mitigate the mystery of why Bunny Windom had been on his yacht or how and why she’d been knocked unconscious so that she hadn’t had a chance to survive when the boat went down.
Sighing, Megan admitted that wasn’t the only mystery in her life. At twenty-six, she had no memory of her first eleven years. It was as if her life had started the day of her mother’s funeral.
That terrible day she recalled in vivid detail. The tears. The flowers. The overcast sky with lightning and thunder rumbling among the peaks of the Wind River Mountains. The terror and uncertainty as she watched them lower her mother into the ground—
“Bear up,” Kyle advised. “The mandatory waltz of the maid of honor and best man will be over in another minute. It can’t come soon enough for me, either.”
He had a wonderful voice, husky and deep and resonant, like twilight and campfire smoke, like distant mountains and the wind through the cottonwoods. A lover’s voice—warm and honey-smooth, with an undercurrent of intimacy shaded into the masculine tones.
But none of that was for her, because she was his enemy, too. Like the Hatfields and the McCoys, their families had been hostile even before the boating incident.
“I beg your pardon?” she said as if she had no idea what he meant. Her tone was calm, not at all in sync with the haunting melancholy inside her.
His lips curled up ever so little at the corners in a knowing smile filled with the acid sting of disdain. “Being forced into my arms appears to be your idea of hell. You’ve sighed three times in the last minute.”
“You overestimate your influence,” she informed him with cool regard. “My sighs have nothing to do with you, only with…life.”
She hated the hesitant note as she searched for a word that sounded innocuous, yet meaningful enough to account for her uncharacteristic moodiness.
Her enemy studied her, his thoughts unreadable in the depths of his gray eyes. A year ahead of her in high school, he’d treated her as if she hardly existed on the occasions they couldn’t avoid each other, such as the Honor Society meetings. Kyle Herriot, football captain, had been vice president, then president when she’d been the treasurer.
Smart. Athletic. All-around hero.
A shiver raced through her, a sinister warning of something she couldn’t name.
Tonight he was incredibly handsome in a white dinner jacket and black pants, a boutonniere of pink-edged golden roses attached to the lapel. His black hair gleamed in the multiple lights of the candles spaced about the patio and rolling lawn.
June in Wind River, Wyoming, was unpredictable, but Mother Nature had chosen to be kind this year, so that the wedding reception could be outdoors rather than in the formal dining hall, cleared for the occasion. The night sky was star-spangled, the air crisp but warm enough for Megan to wear only a silk shawl draped over her long evening gown of golden silk.
Around them, other couples took to the floor, urged by the bride, who called out happy greetings to friends and family members as she danced with her new husband.
The tension eased from Megan’s shoulders as skin-prickling stares shifted to other couples. A Windom in the arms of a Herriot was news in this part of the world.
Kyle led her in an intricate step. He was a wonderful dancer, as firm and decisive as a professional. Once he’d found out she could follow him easily, he’d surprised her with his skill. How odd, to know they clicked effortlessly on the dance floor when their chance meetings were filled with silent accusations and distrust.
Inhaling deeply, she caught the scent of his cologne and the clean smell of balsam shampoo and soap mixed with pine and cedar from the mountains. The aroma of the light floral perfume she wore wafted around them, too.
Confusing sensations swept through her. She was surrounded, surfeited by it all—the evening, the first stars, the beauty of the wedding, the happiness of the bride and groom, the complex emotions of the day coupled with the memories she couldn’t erase and those she couldn’t recall—
“Easy,” the velvet-smooth voice murmured in her ear.
Kyle caught her close as her feet stopped moving, causing them to stumble. She thanked him and tried, really tried, to smile, but her lips trembled with the effort.
“What troubles you?” he asked.
Surprised by the question, she answered honestly. “My father sat out here and cried the night of my mother’s funeral. That was in June, too. Fifteen years ago.”
The words tumbled out, startling her. She hadn’t been consciously aware of them in her mind.
Kyle’s expression hardened, but he said nothing.
“My room is up there.” She nodded toward the window overlooking the patio. “I sat on the window seat and watched him, each of us alone and hurting, but I didn’t go to him. I couldn’t; it was too frightening, listening to my father weep. I’ve always regretted that.”
“You were a child, what, nine, ten?” His tone was rough, not exactly sympathetic, but not hostile toward that child, either.
“Eleven. I’d just turned eleven in May.”
A week ago she’d looked at the pictures of her eleventh birthday party. Cake. Ice cream. Friends. Her face lit with joy as she prepared to blow out the candles. A little over three weeks before her mother would go down in a sailing yacht belonging to this man’s father.
“He should have comforted you.”
“No.” She understood her father’s grief, the depth of it, the terrible, terrible pain of loss. He’d loved Bunny Windom with all his heart and soul. She was sure of it.
Her partner said nothing else.
The dance ended in a grand flourish. Kyle swept her into a graceful dip, then twirled her around three times, stopping on the last beat of the music.
“Thank you. That was lovely,” she automatically said.
His lips curled at the corners. “My pleasure.”
After escorting her to the table where the wedding party had been seated, he deftly removed the bride from her new husband’s arm and guided her onto the cleared dancing area. Shannon, looking as radiant as a dewdrop in sunlight, laughed as he executed a dramatic tango step with her.
The musicians immediately took up the tempo. Everyone stopped and watched the couple.
“Every woman’s dream—a man who can dance really well,” Kate, Megan’s other cousin, remarked, taking the seat next to her husband.
“Hey, I didn’t think I was too bad,” Jess complained with good-natured complacency.
Jess was Megan’s uncle, a virtual stranger who’d showed up last summer looking for clues to his sister’s death. Bunny had lost track of her young brother—her stepfather had been a drifter—after she married and had always worried about his well-being.
“Well, for a cop with a limp, you’re okay,” Kate conceded, her blue eyes—the envy of every woman in the county—sparkling with love and humor.
A vise clamped around Megan’s heart as she listened to the teasing between two of the people she loved best in the world. She really was emotional today.
Why? Because she was the only one left of the three cousins who hadn’t found her true love? Was she so petty as to be envious of their happiness?
No. She really was pleased that Kate and now Shannon had found their soul mates. She approved of their husbands, Jess Fargo and Rory Daniels. She adored Jess’s son from his first marriage and the couple’s recently adopted daughter.
Hearing herself sigh again, she admitted it was her own low spirits, and a past she couldn’t recall that bothered her today. She couldn’t figure out why.
“Wanna dance?” thirteen-year-old Jeremy Fargo asked.
“Now that’s an offer I can’t refuse,” she said with a warm smile. She was teaching him to ride and handle horses. They’d become good friends in the process.
For the rest of the evening, she danced and toasted the bridal pair with an enthusiasm that was sincere. Later, as she tired, her emotions became unreliable again.
She managed to stave off the odd and irritating nostalgia or whatever it was by refilling platters and keeping an eye on the caterers. When the food was replenished, she looked around for something else to do.
Seeing that everything was in order and the guests happy, she relaxed and leaned against the wall, content to watch rather than take part.
“It’s time,” a deep, quiet masculine voice told her.
She glanced at Kyle with a question in her eyes.
“Rory wants to take Shannon home now. She has a headache, and he’s worried. He doesn’t want her to get overtired.”
Shannon, a local cop, had received a head injury at Christmas and been temporarily blinded. Her vision had gradually come back, not all the way, but she could see.
The annoying, insistent tears pushed against Megan’s control at Rory’s consideration for his bride. “He’s been so good for her,” she murmured. Then, to her embarrassment, her eyes filled with tears, too many to simply blink away.
Kyle moved in front of her, concealing her from other curious eyes. His warmth surrounded her, oddly comforting but disturbing, too. She was aware of him, deep in her bones, in a way she didn’t recall being aware of a man. It added to the welter of emotions that ruffled the even tenor of the evening.
“Does that bother you?” he asked, his harsh tones at odds with his kind actions.
Megan stared up at him.
“Did you want Rory for yourself?”
Her mouth dropped open, then she shook her head and managed a true smile. “I want the bride and groom to have all the happiness they deserve. I wish them the best.”
He looked skeptical for a second, then shrugged. “How do we announce their departure?”
“We pass out the bags of birdseed.” She slipped around his tall, lithe frame and pointed to a side table.
He helped her make sure each guest had a little net bag of seed to send the wedded couple off in a shower of blessings. When the bride and groom were gone, others began to take their leave.
Later, when all the guests had left, except for Kate, who’d stayed to help with the cleanup, Megan kicked off her shoes with relief.
“You don’t have to do that,” she scolded Kate, who was washing up a crystal bowl.
“This is the last piece. The caterers did a good job, didn’t they?”
“Lovely.” Lifting her left foot, Megan wiggled her toes. She was much more used to boots than heels—and preferred the more casual wear. Training horses and giving riding lessons was how she made her living. Horses were somewhat predictable. People weren’t.
Kate dried the bowl and put it away. She hung up the dishtowel. “I hate to leave you here alone.”
“I’ll be fine.” Megan managed another smile.
Her cousin wasn’t fooled. Kate was seven years older. As a teenager, she’d often baby-sat Megan and Shannon. She’d been there when Bunny had drowned. Kate had been the rock that held steadfast for Megan then and five years later when her father had died in an automobile accident.
Their grandfather’d had a stroke shortly after his son died and lived the rest of his life in a wheelchair, hardly able to speak. It was all so sad—
Hot tears filled her eyes, startling her.
“Megan?” Kate said, concerned.
Megan grabbed a tissue and mopped her eyes. “I’m feeling terribly sentimental today. The wedding and all. Wasn’t Shannon lovely?”
“Yes. Rory has been good for her.”
“I can spend the night,” Kate offered. “Jess took the children home. I have my car here.”
Kate had brought over the roses that filled every vase in the house. The family green thumb belonged to her.
“Actually I prefer the quiet. It’s been so hectic lately, I’m looking forward to not feeling compelled to talk to anyone or be social. Besides, I’m going out to check on a mare as soon as I change. If she’s foaling, I’ll be in the stable the rest of the night. You go home and take care of your family. You’ve done enough here today. Shoo.”
“Okay,” Kate agreed. “Come over for dinner tomorrow night. The guys have promised us fresh fish.”
Megan had to decline. “I have late classes on Mondays.” She walked her cousin to the driveway and waved her off.
It wasn’t until Kate’s taillights disappeared that she felt the loneliness close in on her once more. She stood at the top of the stairs, on the way to her bedroom, and listened to the silence of the old mansion that had sheltered several generations of Windoms.
Their grandfather, the family patriarch, had died during the spring, which was why Shannon had postponed the wedding until June. Now Megan was totally alone in the family homestead. It gave her an odd, unsettled feeling.
Like being the last of her kind.
Which wasn’t true in the least. She had her two cousins, who’d been her friends and mentors all her life. She had her uncle, plus the two new cousins, Jeremy and Amanda. She knew everyone in Wind River, population one thousand, and the county. Besides her cousins and their families, other ranchers lived around the lake and along the county road. She wasn’t alone, not at all.
After changing to a shirt, jeans and boots, she did go to the stable. The light flickered when she turned it on. If the electricity was going to go out, she’d better check the flashlight and fill the oil lantern. After doing so, she looked in on the mother-to-be.
The mare slept peacefully, waking only when Megan leaned over the stall. The horse rose and came to Megan, blowing gently into her ear and reminding her of the way a lover might tease during their lovemaking.
An image formed in her inner vision. Kyle Herriot. Now that her cousin was wed to his best friend, would she be forced to endure his company often?
Rather than recoiling from the idea, she studied it from several angles, trying to assess her own reactions.
The past wasn’t his fault. Nor was it hers. It was just there, a barrier as big as a boulder field laid down by the glaciers that had moved through these parts thousands of years ago.
Her grandfather had hated the Herriots because his fianc?e had run away from him only days before the wedding and eloped with Sebastian “Sonny” Herriot instead. Megan wondered what had caused the flight.
A neighboring woman had once said her grandfather’d had a terrible temper during his youth, that he and his fianc?e had had a fierce quarrel over her brother, who was in jail for cattle-rustling and needed a lawyer. Grandfather had refused to help. Megan supposed Kyle’s grandfather had supplied the necessary funds.
Sad, what people do to their lives.
The hot rush of tears assailed her again. She hugged the mare and pressed her face into the rough mane, then drew away. “Go back to sleep, love.”
Honestly, if weddings affected her this much, she was going to have to swear off attending them. She smiled, but the odd tumult inside didn’t let up.
A warm, furry body wrapped itself around Megan’s legs. Tabby dropped a mouse at Megan’s feet.
“Thanks,” she said wryly, bending down to pat the cat. “I think I’ll let you keep the mouse. I hope this was the only one.”
Satisfied that all was well here, she flicked out the light and headed for the house. On the deserted patio, she paused, feeling the rush of overwhelming emotion again.
Her father had wept here, alone in the night, for the wife he’d lost.
Megan sensed, if not his presence, then his grief, terrifying to the child she’d been at the time, utterly sad to the adult she was now. The soul of Sean Windom had died that night, although his body hadn’t gone until five years later, when he’d had an automobile accident.
Drunk again, people had whispered. Driving too fast.
A sixteen-year-old at the time, she had vehemently denied he’d wanted to die. Now…now she wasn’t so sure.
The thought seemed a betrayal of her father’s memory. Pushing it out of her consciousness, she wondered why the past weighed so heavily of late. Since her grandfather’s death in March, it had preyed on her mind and emotions.
The specter of cleaning out drawers and closets loomed over her. It was something she should do, but she dreaded it. Kate and Shannon would help, but she wasn’t ready to face that task just yet.
Another shiver chased down her spine. Glancing once more around the patio, she slowly entered the house and felt its haunting emptiness. She walked upstairs, but instead of going to her bedroom, she went to the suite that had belonged to her parents.
She hadn’t been back in here since she and her cousins had gone through and disposed of the clothing and personal items. Jess had searched the room last summer, sure he would find a clue to his sister’s death. They had found only the usual things—photo albums, mementos from anniversary dinners, birthdays and the few vacations they’d had.
Gazing at the portrait of her mother, Megan was overwhelmed with love and despair and questions.
“Why?” she whispered, staring into green eyes that were so like her own. “Why were you out on that lake? Why were you with a man hated by our family? Why?”
The woman in the portrait returned her stare, the rose-petal lips caught forever in a soft, dreamy smile of perfect happiness, her belly flagrantly rounded with child.
The painting had been commissioned by her father for the couple’s first anniversary. The unborn child was a girl. Herself. Megan Rose Windom, her parents’ only child.
Closing her eyes, she tried to recall those early years. The happy times, she termed them. She had dozens of pictures of picnics, horseback rides and birthday parties to prove it. Her mother had been radiant in each of the early snapshots. When had their lives changed?ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî