Shadows from the Pastñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“McKenna’s latest is an intriguing tale…a unique twist on the romance novel, and one that’s sure to please.”
–RT Book Reviews on Dangerous Prey
–RT Book Reviews on The Quest
“Gunfire, emotions, suspense, tension, and sexuality abound in this fast-paced, absorbing novel.”
–Affaire de Coeur on Wild Woman
–Affaire de Coeur on Enemy Mine
“Emotionally charged…riveting and deeply touching.”
–RT Book Reviews on Firstborn
“Ms. McKenna brings readers along for a fabulous odyssey in which complex characters experience the danger, passion and beauty of the mystical jungle.”
–RT Book Reviews on Man of Passion
“Talented Lindsay McKenna delivers excitement and romance in equal measure.”
–RT Book Reviews on Protecting His Own
“Lindsay McKenna will have you flying with the daring and deadly women pilots who risk their lives…buckle in for the ride of your life.”
–WritersUnlimited on Heart of Stone
SHADOWS FROM THE PAST
At last! Morgan and Laura’s last child, Kamaria Trayhern, gets her story! She was adopted as a baby after a terrifying earthquake struck Los Angeles, California. It was then that the Trayherns adopted the beautiful dark-haired baby girl found in the rubble of an apartment.
Kamaria grew up in the loving home of this dynastic family. She was loved by her four older siblings. Yet as she grew she wondered who her father was. Her mother had lost her life by covering Kamaria with her body when the second floor of an apartment caved in on them during the earthquake. But her father? Who was he? Had he known that her mother was pregnant? If he had, why hadn’t he shown up to claim her?
Kamaria has more questions than answers. And truth be told, she is afraid to strike out on her own and find her father. Yet something deep and unnamed within her pushes her toward an unknown destiny fraught with danger from all sides. And through it all, she discovers the love of a cowboy.
Like you, I’ve waited a long time to get this book written before I step off and start to write about Noah and Alyssa’s children. Kamaria is the last of Morgan and Laura’s family. It feels good to pen her story and share it with you. My hope is that you will feel her journey, her hurdles, her challenges to find love and her real family by bloodline. Like all things in our lives, nothing is ever easy or straightforward. Enjoy Kamaria’s journey and walk with her. I love to hear from my readers at www.lindsaymckenna.com or http://twitter.com/lindsaymckenna, or catch me on Facebook as Eileen Nauman. Happy reading!
To the ladies of Quilter’s Corners, Cottonwood, Arizona
Thank you, Mary Beth Grosetta, owner, for teaching me how to quilt. And to all the wonderful staff who are quilting queens in their own right: Carla Armstrong, Karen Crowder, Jody, Joy Albanese and Sherri Morstman.
And to an incredible Tuesday Group Ladies who come in
every Tuesday and create comfort quilts for the poor, the sick and infirm. Connie Hanks, Dorothy Esper, Eileen Crandall, Jeanne Bollen, Judy Bishop, Mary Beth Grosetta and Vivian Raines—you rock! Your compassion and care for others is truly inspirational.
Joyce Cook, long arm instructor—you are
just the best teacher! Thank you.
SHADOWS FROM THE PAST
IT WAS time. As she sat at her bedroom table in Montana, Kam Trayhern’s hands grew damp. Outside her window, the May dusk turned a lush pink and orange above the Douglas firs surrounding the two-story Montana home of her adopted parents, Morgan and Laura Trayhern.
Now that she’d returned from a harrowing trip to Africa, she had to face the rest of her life, starting with her birth. Kam lifted a folder marked Tracy Elizabeth Fielding. She opened it and smoothed out the papers inside with trembling hands. She shouldn’t be so emotional about this. But she was.
Her gaze fell upon the black-and-white photo that had haunted her for years. The edges were stained and darkened from age and damage from the earthquake that had hit Los Angeles twenty-eight years earlier. A marine dog handler and her golden retriever had found Kam and her biological mother in the debris of their destroyed apartment complex. That day, Kam’s mother had died but she had lived, thanks to that marine, Callie Evans. Kam had been taken to Camp Reed on the Marine Corps base for treatment of her minor injuries.
Kam turned on the desk light to get a better look at the old photo. Just like that the dusk within the room disappeared, but nothing could make her nightmares disappear. She had to face facts. Morgan and Laura Trayhern had adopted her when they discovered she had no family. Her mother had been an orphan and there was no trace of her father. At the time of the quake, many records, memories and photos had been lost—forever. All Kam had from the apartment was this photo. It had been found in her mother’s purse.
The photo showed her mother, Elizabeth, with black curly hair like her own, standing with three men. She wore a white lab coat for a Los Angeles veterinary convention. Another vet stood next to her, smiling toothily for the photo. The note on the back identified the veterinary convention. A businessman in a dark gray suit stood on the other side. Kam’s gaze drifted to the third man, the tallest one, to the left of her mother. He looked like a cowboy with his black Stetson. His weathered square face, a mustache and narrowed eyes spoke of the harsh elements, most likely from ranching.
How many times had Kam looked at this photo and wondered if one of these three men were her father? Kam frowned and peered more closely at the man standing with her mother. She felt an instinctive churn of her gut as she looked almost longingly at the cowboy. He stood out from the others. Taller than all of them, he was built lean, like a wolf. His face was darkly sunburned, deep creases and laugh lines showed at the corners of his eyes. Everyone in the photo was smiling except him. And her mother was caught looking in his direction. Was this a secret look of love?
A lump formed in Kam’s throat. Of course, her adopted father, Morgan, had turned over every stone to find her biological father. After all, Morgan was in the security business at the highest levels of the government with his super-secret Perseus and Medusa companies. No one in the outside world knew what he did for a living. As a cover, Morgan had created a real-estate front to hide his real reasons for being in Phillipsburg, Montana. His secret offices were located deep below the basement level of the turn-of-the-century Victorian house. Kam had been raised in a two-story cedar home not far from the office.
Morgan had promised Kam to find every possible scrap of information on her mother, and over the years, he had. The questions remained: Who had fathered her? And why hadn’t that man ever come forward to claim her? These questions cut like a knife. Because she owed Morgan and Laura everything, Kam had waited a long time to approach them about seeking her biological father herself. She simply did not want to hurt them. But now she couldn’t put it off. She had decided to take a hiatus from her professional photography job as a stringer for several global newspapers and magazines. This way, she’d have the time and energy to conduct her search. And her parents had to know her plan.
Kam wiped her damp hands on the sides of her jeans. How would they react? Again, her gut tightened with fear. Would they be angry? Throw her out of the house that she had called home for twenty-eight years? Oh, it was true that she was a globetrotter and had come home only about once a year since turning twenty-one, but still…Kam dreaded the possibility that they would kick her out of their lives.
And then, where would she be? Without any family. Her mother had been an adopted child, and the people who had adopted her were dead along with whatever memories and information they had. It was the worst kind of ending for Kam—to be an orphan of an orphan. What had she done to be a lost spirit in this lifetime? Kam believed in reincarnation, believed that her soul would never die, but that it would return lifetime after lifetime into different bodies to learn how to become a compassionate and spiritually enlightened human being.
Two of the few items retrieved from Elizabeth’s destroyed apartment had been a book on Buddhism and one on reincarnation. These books were now dog-eared from being read so many times. Kam had wanted to adopt her mother’s views on life and, to a degree, she had. Consequently, her beliefs were different from those of the Trayhern family. They didn’t mind nor did they try to force her into their belief system.
It was time. Now was the time to focus and not dwell on the past. As scared as she was, Kam knew she had to initiate the search and conquer this fear. Why should she be afraid anyway? She was wise and worldly thanks to her career. Many times, she’d gone into war-torn and ravaged third-world countries to bring people’s suffering and needs to the world’s attention. Her photos had garnered her many awards over the years and she’d made more than enough money to take time off to hunt for her real father.
Taking a deep breath, Kam glanced down at the watch on her wrist. The family would sit down to dinner at 7:00 p.m., as always. She’d arrived three days earlier from her last assignment in Africa. Her mother, Laura, was throwing a party for her this weekend. Her brother Jason and his wife, Annie, and their children lived nearby and would attend. Kathy, one of the fraternal twins, had just married raptor rehabilitator, Sky McCoy. They, too, would be at her return celebration dinner.
Knowing her father would be home by now, Kam decided to talk with him first. Morgan always had a glass of red wine and relaxed from the day’s pressures before dinner in the airy library. Standing up, Kam rubbed her knotted stomach. Above all, she didn’t want to upset Morgan and Laura. They were the last people she ever wanted to hurt. Torn because she loved them deeply, she sighed.
Kam picked up the photo and headed downstairs. Classical music wafted through the cathedral roof of the cedar home. She smelled basil and knew her mother was probably cooking up a pesto sauce to go with some Italian dish. If only Kam had an appetite.
Her father sat in the study surrounded on three sides by floor-to-ceiling shelves of books. He was in his favorite burgundy leather chair reading. Her heart blossomed with a fierce love for this man. Never had he or Laura ever treated her as anything but their treasured daughter. He lifted his head and a smiled with welcome as she entered the room. She noted he was graying at the temples, but his hair still gleamed black beneath the stained-glass lamp suspended above him.
“Hi, Dad,” she greeted, her voice hoarse and wavering.
“Kam. Well, are you finally caught up on sleep and out of the jet lag?”
She forced a smile she didn’t feel and brought up an upholstered burgundy stool. “Yeah, I think I’ve left Africa behind.”
Morgan closed his book and gave her an assessing look. “Is something wrong? You seem upset.”
“I could never hide a thing from you, could I?” She managed a strangled chuckle. Her hands shook slightly as she nervously held the picture between them.
Morgan took a sip of his wine and placed the glass back on the cherry lamp table next to his chair. “No,” he murmured, giving her a softened look. “What are you holding?”
Kam was forever surprised by Morgan’s keen alertness. He always knew when something was on her mind. “What? Oh this…” Her mouth grew dry and the fear amped up so much that she felt nearly suffocated. She held out the photo to him. “Dad, you remember this picture they took from my mom’s purse after I was rescued?”
Frowning, Morgan studied the photo. “Yes, I do, Kam.” Softening his tone, he added, “What have you decided to do?”
Kam cleared her throat. “Dad, I think that one of these men might be my biological father.” She rushed on when his brows raised. “I know this probably sounds silly and far-fetched but my gut instinct tells me this. I—I want the chance to find out. I want to take the next year off and run down the leads.”
Nodding, Morgan rested his elbows on the arms of the chair and clasped his hands. “It’s time, Kam. Laura and I were wondering when you would begin the long, hard journey to try and find your father.”
“You did?” Her voice sounded thin and stretched. Heart pounding furiously in her breast, she lowered her eyes. “I don’t want to hurt you, Dad. Or Mom. I—I know this has to be painful for both of you.”
“Baby girl,” Morgan whispered, reaching out to her, “we expected you someday to try to locate the man who made it possible for you to be in our life.” He gave her a quick squeeze on the shoulders and released her. “You’re human, Kam. Every person wants to know who their mother and father are. You’re no different.” He tousled her short hair. “Frankly, we were concerned because you didn’t seem to want to go on that journey. We know you wear your heart on your sleeve. And we know how sensitive you are toward all living things. We felt you just hadn’t built up enough of a desire to go after him yet. I’m glad this moment has come, Kam. For you.”
Blinking through sudden, hot tears, Kam absorbed Morgan’s quick embrace. It was filled with such love and caring. “I—I just don’t want to lose you two.”
“You won’t ever lose us, Kam,” Morgan assured her, his voice growing raspy.
Kam searched his blue-gray eyes and saw tears. “You’ve given me so much. You are so generous, kind and caring….”
“And we’ll always be that way with you, Kam. When you love someone, that never changes. Time only deepens love. And that’s how we feel about you. I’m sure Laura will be glad to hear your plans.”
Just like that, Kam’s heart stopped racing and she felt more at peace. “So, you really think Mom will be okay with this?”
Morgan chuckled and sat back in his chair. “If I know her, she’ll want to help you find your birth father. Listen to me, Kam. All we want is for you to be happy. We know how much it means to have those few items from your mother’s apartment. Parents are bedrock for a child. They tell you where you came from, what kind of person loved you enough to have you. And now, you need to find your birth father.”
“He’s never come to find me…” Kam choked. Tears blurred her vision for a moment. “You don’t know how many nights I lay up there in my bed wondering why he never came to see me. I—I have had so many nightmares about this, Dad. That he didn’t want me…”
The words were terrible to say. To admit. Kam thought them often, but to say them out loud was like having a weight sit on her that she could no longer avoid or dodge. She saw Morgan’s face twist with concern.
“Kammie, don’t go there. At least, not yet. What if he didn’t know about you?”
“I’ve run through that scenario,” Kam admitted. “But if that was so, why didn’t my mother contact him? Tell him she was pregnant with me? Why didn’t he return to her life and take the responsibility?”
Shrugging, Morgan said gently, “We won’t know those answers until you find him and confront him.”
She pressed a hand to her chest. “I just get so envious of people who know who their birth moms and dads are. I ache inside because I don’t. I just feel this huge hole in my heart and there’s nothing that can really fill it except to know who my father is.”
“I know,” Morgan whispered, a catch in his tone. Reaching out, he squeezed Kam’s hand. “One step at a time, baby girl. When we have dinner tonight, let your mom know what you want to do. I’ll bet she can help.”
Nodding, Kam clung to his hand. Morgan Trayhern was a giant in the military and spy business. His reputation was one of respect, integrity and admiration. This man, who was so powerful, was also her dad, the man who had raised her with nothing but love. Kam knew how lucky she was, and, as she sat there clinging to his grip, she understood that her biological father would never meet his stature of this man.
LAURA AND MORGAN sat with Kam after the dinner table had been cleared. Having just finished dessert—Napoleons that Laura had made from scratch—they regarded the photo. Fragrant coffee steamed nearby in white ceramic mugs.
“I’ve looked at this photo before,” Laura told her daughter, as she took a sip of her coffee. “You know what drew me?”
“What?” Kam asked, excited that her adoptive parents were proactive on her decision.
“See that bolo tie that cowboy is wearing?”
Kam looked closely. There was a handsome sterling-silver bolo tie, oval in shape, with an elk head on it. The antlers spread from the middle to the top of the bolo. “Yes.”
“I’ve often wondered about that bolo tie. Whether it was a hint,” Laura said.
“Plus,” Morgan added, “a long time ago I had my assistant research the veterinary convention and we got the names of two out of the three men in that photograph with your mother. The one we don’t have is the cowboy on the end. Maybe he wasn’t really attending the convention but was there because of your mother. Or maybe their records are incomplete and he was a convention guest.”
“I know,” Kam said, frowning. “The dairy and beef convention was held annually in Los Angeles. Mom was a veterinary researcher and she was one of the speakers.” She pointed to the two men in the photo. “We know the guy in the business suit was a sales rep for a testing lab and the other one was a scientist who worked with Mom.” Her gaze drifted back to the unidentified cowboy. “My gut just tells me he’s the one. I can’t prove it, but I know it.”
Laura patted her hand. “Women have that strong intuition. We know without knowing why we know what we know.” She grinned over at Kam.
Laura’s touch made Kam feel steadier and stronger. “So, all we have to go on is a bolo tie. I’ve wracked my brain on this for years trying to figure out what the bolo tie might mean, Mom. There’s no writing on the bolo tie to say it was this ranch or that. No leads.”
“Maybe we need to look on Google,” Laura said. She had been a military researcher and writer in the Pentagon for years before she’d met and married Morgan, and she hadn’t lost her knack for research. “I know you’ve been looking for the image on the Net without success.”
“I’ve tried many times before but nothing comes up,” Kam said. “Images are always being added and I keep hoping you’ll find something on it.”
“Because you’re not a researcher,” Laura said, smiling. “So now, let me show you some of the tools I use now that you’re ready to find him.”
Kam rose, excited. She knew her mother was an ace researcher. Not only that but she’d waited for Kam to be ready in her search. “Dad? You want to come?”
Morgan shook his head. “No, you two go ahead. There’s not much room in that makeshift office you moved into your bedroom,” and he smiled.
Understanding, Kam got to her feet. Laura picked up her coffee and they went up the stairs to her room.
Typing in the two words as she and Laura sat close to one another before the laptop, Kam saw a slew of listings from an archival Web site that Laura used. She quickly strolled through the possibilities and then went to the next set of ten. For the next hour, Laura went through decades of images on the site.
Finally, when Kam was losing hope, Laura gave her a smile.
“Look at this,” Laura said, pointing a finger at one entry. “Elkhorn Ranch, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.” She clicked on the link and immediately a Web page for a dude ranch came up.
Kam gasped. “There’s the elk symbol from his bolo tie!” The exact symbol from her photograph was emblazoned in the upper left-hand corner. Her heart started galloping once more.
“Hmmm,” Laura murmured, running her finger over the pad to get the pointer to the left in a column. She clicked on About Us.
Kam saw a multigenerational family portrait. Her breath hitched. In the back, the tallest figure standing in the middle of the family was the man in her photo, only older. Graying at his temples, he still wore a handlebar mustache and a black Stetson cowboy hat. His long arms were wrapped around his wife and an older woman. Two teenage children sat in front of them. An ache built in her chest. “His name is Rudd Mason,” she read out loud in a hushed tone.
“And he owns this dude ranch,” Laura rapidly read below the family portrait. “Wife is Allison Dubois-Mason, children Regan and Zach. The other woman is Rudd’s mother, Iris Mason.”
“It says he owns a fifty-thousand-acre family ranch surrounded by the Grand Teton National Park,” Kam murmured, rapidly devouring the rest of the information. “He runs an organic beef herd and sells nationally to restaurants and food stores who want the clean meat.”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî