An unwanted desire...
With the death of his wife still raw, Jack Connolly's mood is dark and dangerous. He's not looking for a woman, until he meets buttoned-up but beautiful Grace Spencer, who stirs his senses back to life. Yet Jack cannot act on his feelings, as Grace belongs to another!
An impossible affair...
Trapped in a fake relationship to safeguard her family, Grace knows crossing the line with Jack would risk everything she holds dear. Beneath the hunger she sees in Jack's eyes is the promise of something more...but is it enough for her to surrender to a taste of the forbidden?
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Anne Mather always wanted to write. For years she wrote only for her own pleasure, and it wasn’t until her husband suggested that she ought to send one of her stories to a publisher that they put several publishers’ names into a hat and pulled one out. The rest as they say in history. 150 books later, Anne is literally staggered by the result! Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and she would be happy to hear from any of her readers.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The phone was ringing as Jack walked into the house.
He was tempted not to answer it. He knew who it would be. It was at least three days since his sister-in-law had contacted him. Debra seldom ignored him for very long.
But she was—had been—Lisa's sister, and he supposed she was only looking out for him. The truth was, he didn't need looking out for, he thought resignedly. He was doing just fine on his own.
Dropping the bag containing the still-warm baguette he'd bought at the village bakery onto the granite counter, Jack hooked the kitchen phone from the wall.
'Connolly,' he said, hoping against hope that it might be a cold call. But those hopes were dashed when Debra Car-rick came on the line.
'Why do you insist on turning off your mobile phone?' she greeted him irritably. 'I called you once yesterday and twice today, but you're never available.'
'And good morning to you, too,' Jack commented drily. 'And why do I need to carry a mobile phone every place I go? I doubt there's anything you need to tell me that can't wait.'
'How do you know that?' Debra sounded offended now and he stifled a groan. 'In any case, what if you had an accident? Or if you fell off that stupid boat of yours? You'd wish you had some means of communication then.'
'If I fell off the boat, the phone wouldn't work in the water,' replied Jack mildly, and he heard Debra give an impatient snort.
'You've always got an answer, haven't you, Jack?' she demanded, her frustration evident. 'Anyway, when are you coming home? Your mother's worried about you.'
Jack acknowledged that the worrying part might be true.
But both his mother and his father—and his siblings, come to that—knew not to ask those kinds of questions.
They'd accepted that he needed to move away from the family. And this house he'd found on the wild Northumbrian coast was exactly where he wanted to be.
'This is my home,' he said now, glancing round the large farmhouse kitchen with a certain amount of pride.
When he'd bought the house, it had been in a sorry state of repair. But after months of his living out of suitcases and cardboard boxes, the renovation—a lot of which he'd done himself—was now complete.
Lindisfarne House had emerged as a comfortable, but elegant, home. The ideal place to find refuge and decide what he was going to do with the rest of his life.
'You're not serious!' He'd almost forgotten what his answer had been until Debra spoke again. 'Jack, you're an architect! A successful architect at that. Just because you've inherited that money doesn't mean you have to spend all your time bumming around some godforsaken corner of England!'
'Rothburn is not a godforsaken corner of England,' protested Jack civilly. 'And certainly no more remote than Kil-pheny itself.' He sighed. 'I needed to get away from Ireland, Debs. I thought you understood that.'
Debra sniffed. 'Well, I do, I suppose,' she conceded. 'I'm sure your grandmother's death was the last straw. But all your family's here. Your friends are here. We miss you, you know.'
'Yeah, I know.' Jack could feel his patience thinning nonetheless. 'Look, I gotta go, Debs.' He grimaced at the lie. 'There's someone at the door.'
With the phone hooked back onto the wall, Jack spread his hands on the cool granite for a moment, breathing deeply. It wasn't her fault, he told himself. Just because every time he heard her voice he found himself thinking about Lisa didn't make her a bad person.
For God's sake, he just wished she would get off his case.
'She's in love with you, you know.'
The light, half-amused tone broke into his bleak mood of introspection. He lifted his head to find Lisa seated on the end of the counter, examining her nails. She was dressed in the same cropped pants and silk blouse she'd been wearing the last time he'd seen her. One high-heeled sandal dangled from her right foot.
Jack closed his eyes for a moment and straightened from his stooped position.
'You don't know that,' he said flatly, and Lisa lifted her head and met his brooding gaze.
'Oh, I do,' she insisted. 'Debs has been in love with you for years. Ever since I first brought you home to meet Daddy.'
Jack turned away and picked up the baguette he'd brought home from the bakery. Despite his conversation with Debra, it was still warm, and he switched on the coffee pot and took a dish of butter from the fridge.
Slicing himself a generous wedge of the baguette, he spread it thickly with butter. Then forced himself to eat it, even though he disliked having her watch him do so.
'Are you going back to Ireland?'
Lisa was persistent, and, although Jack despised himself for humouring her, he turned his head. She was still sitting on his counter, a pale ethereal figure that he knew from previous experience could disappear in an instant. But today, she seemed determined to torment him and he lifted his shoulders in a careless shrug.
'What's it to you?' he asked, lifting a mug from the drainer and pouring himself some coffee. Strong and black, the way he liked it. 'You don't like Northumberland, either?'
'I just want you to be happy,' Lisa said, spreading her fingers as he'd seen her do a hundred times after she'd applied a coat of varnish on her nails. 'That's why I'm here.'
Jack was sceptical. In his opinion, she was doing her best to make people think he was crazy. He was talking to a dead person, for God's sake. How insane was that?
A draught of air blew across his face and when next he looked, she was gone.
She left nothing behind. Not even the faint trace of the perfume she'd always worn. Nothing to prove he wasn't going out of his mind as he sometimes suspected he was.
In the beginning, Jack had dismissed Lisa's appearances as a mental aberration. Even so, he'd gone to see a doctor in Wicklow who, in turn, had sent him to a psychiatrist in Dublin.
The psychiatrist had been of the opinion that it was Jack's way of grieving. And as no one else saw Lisa, Jack had half believed he might be right.
But the visitations had continued, sometimes with days, at other times weeks, in between. Jack had become so inured to them that they didn't worry him any longer.
Besides, he'd never felt that Lisa wanted to hurt him. On the contrary, she always appeared as quirky and capricious as she'd been in life.
Jack scowled and carried his coffee out of the kitchen and across a wide panelled hall into a sunlit living room.
The room was large, high-ceilinged and furnished with dark oak and leather. Pale textured walls contrasted with the beams that arched above his head, long windows overlooking the coastline and the blue-grey waters of the North Sea.
There was a leather rocking chair set in the window embrasure and Jack seated himself in it and propped his booted feet on the sill. It was early yet, barely nine o'clock, and the day stretched ahead of him, silent and unstructured.
Which was also the way he liked it.
As he drank his coffee he pondered the prospect of taking the Osprey out for a sail. He knew from previous experience that manning the forty-two-foot ketch demanded all his energies. The North Sea, even at the end of May, didn't take any prisoners.
He frowned. He wasn't sure he wanted that kind of action. He might spend some time on the boat. There were one or two jobs requiring his attention. And he enjoyed exchanging the time of day with the fishermen who also used the small harbour.
Not that he really needed the company. Although he'd suffered in the aftermath of the accident that had killed his wife, he wasn't suicidal. Besides, it was nearly two years since Lisa had died, for heaven's sake. He should be over his grief by now.
And he was. Mostly. Except when Lisa herself turned up to torment him.
When had she first appeared? It must have been about a month after her funeral. Jack had been visiting her grave in the churchyard at Kilpheny when he'd realised that Lisa was standing beside him.
God, she'd certainly shaken him out of his apathy that day, he remembered ruefully. He'd half believed they must have buried some other young woman by mistake.
But no. Lisa had quickly disabused him of that notion. In any case, despite the fact that her little sports car had burst into flames on impact with the petrol tanker, dental records and DNA evidence found at the scene had proved conclusively that the remains they'd found were those of his wife.
The only thing that had survived the crash unscathed had been one of her designer sandals. Which, he assumed, was why Lisa only ever appeared wearing one sandal these days.
He used to ponder that anomaly. Why, if Lisa herself could appear apparently unscathed by the experience, couldn't she have been supplied with another sandal?
It wasn't important. After that first shocking encounter, Jack had learned not to question such prosaic irregularities with her. Lisa had her own agenda and she never deviated from it.
She enjoyed provoking him. Much as she'd done during the three short years of their marriage. Anything else was apparently beyond her remit.
He scowled, finishing his coffee in a single gulp and getting to his feet. He couldn't spend the rest of his life analysing what might have been. Or, as Debra had said, 'bumming around'.
Or talking to a ghost, he appended drily. Perhaps he ought to be wondering if he was losing his mind.
Eight hours later, he was feeling considerably less gloomy. He'd spent the morning doing some minor repairs to the ketch. And then, because it had been a beautiful afternoon, with only a mild wind flowing from the south-west, he'd taken the Osprey out on the water.
By the time he drove back to Lindisfarne House, he'd forgotten how introspective he'd been that morning. He had a bucket of fresh shellfish he'd bought from one of the fishermen and some fresh greens in the back of the Lexus. He was looking forward to making a lobster salad for his supper.
He was propped against the fridge, drinking an ice-cool can of beer, when he heard tyres crunching on his drive. Dammit, he thought, slamming the can down and heading for the front door. The last thing he needed tonight was company...
He scowled. He didn't get visitors. Not visitors who parked in his driveway, anyway. No one, except his immediate family, knew where he was living. And they had strict orders not to give his address to anyone.
When the doorbell chimed, he knew he had to answer it.
'Why don't you open the door?'
Jack swung round abruptly to find Lisa perched on a half-moon console table. 'Say what?'
'Open the door,' she said again, and for the first time she looked almost animated.
'I'm going to,' he said, speaking in a low voice, hoping that whoever was outside wouldn't hear him. 'What's it to you? I'm the one who's going to have to entertain an uninvited guest.'
'Two uninvited guests,' amended Lisa, evidently implying that he had more than one visitor, and Jack's brows drew together.
'So who are they?'
'You'll find out,' she said lightly, her image fading even as her words were dying away.
Jack shook his head, not sure what he ought to make of that. Lisa rarely if ever appeared twice in one day. Did something about the visitor—visitors—disturb her? Perhaps he ought to be on his guard. He was alone in the house, after all.
Well, as good as.
Pushing such negative thoughts aside, he released the latch and opened the door.
A man was standing outside. A man he hadn't seen in God knew how long. He and Sean Nesbitt had grown up together. They'd even attended university together, sharing a flat in their final year.
They'd graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, and had been eager to gain advanced degrees, Jack in architecture and Sean in computer science. After leaving Trinity, however, they'd both gone their separate ways, only meeting occasionally when they'd been visiting their parents in Kilpheny.
Since Jack's marriage to Lisa, he'd virtually lost touch with the other man. And he had to say, Sean was the last person he'd expected to see here.
'You open for visitors?'
Sean was grinning at him and for the life of him Jack couldn't have turned him away.
'Hell, yes,' he said, taking the hand Sean held out and then stepping back automatically. 'But, my God, what are you doing here? And how the devil did you find me?'
Sean's grin widened. 'I'm a computer expert, remember?' he said smugly, glancing back at the silver Mercedes he'd parked on Jack's drive. 'But I'm not on my own. I've brought my girlfriend with me.' He pulled a wry face. 'Is it okay if we both come in?'
So... Jack lifted a thoughtful shoulder. Lisa had been right. He did have more than one visitor. But.
'Sure,' he said, not without some reluctance, casting a swift glance over his shoulder as he did so. But the table was unoccupied. Lisa had definitely gone.
It was only as Sean turned to go back to the car that Jack realised he hadn't changed since he got back from the marina. His cargo pants were smudged with paint and his black sweatshirt had seen better days.
Ah, well, they would have to take him as they found him, he thought resignedly. He hadn't been expecting visitors. And wasn't that the truth?
Sean had circled the car to open the passenger-side door to allow a young woman to get out. But she forestalled his efforts, sliding out of the car before he reached her door. From his position in the doorway, Jack could only see that she was tall and slim, and dressed in jeans and a white tee shirt.
Sean was only of average height and build and in her high-heeled boots she was almost as tall as he was. She also had a mass of curly red-gold hair, presently caught up in a ponytail.
She didn't immediately look his way and Jack wondered if she was as unenthusiastic about this visit as he was. But Sean was a friend and he couldn't disappoint him. Not as he appeared to have come quite some distance to see him.
Sean attempted to put an arm about the girl's waist to draw her forward, and Jack felt a momentary pang of envy. How long was it since he'd had a woman in his arms?
But to his surprise, the girl shrugged Sean off, striding towards the house with a determination that wasn't matched by the expression on her face.
Uh-oh, trouble in paradise, mused Jack wryly. He must be right. She hadn't wanted to come here.
Then he caught his breath. He felt suddenly as if he'd been stabbed in his solar plexus. His involuntary reaction stunned him, the surge of heat invading his lower body feeling like a fire in his gut.
His response was totally unexpected. Not to say inappropriate, as well. He didn't do lust, but that was what he was feeling at that moment. Dammit, she was Sean's girlfriend; he'd said so. And just because they'd apparently had a lovers' tiff didn't mean he had the right to pick up the slack.
But she was striking. High, rounded breasts, pointed nipples clearly outlined by the thin cotton of her tee. Her thighs were sl...
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Book Description Harlequin. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0373138938 *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Bookseller Inventory # SWATI2132281612
Book Description Harlequin, 2016. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0373138938
Book Description Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Mass Market Paperback. Shipping may be from our Sydney, NSW warehouse or from our UK or US warehouse, depending on stock availability. 256 pages. 0.091. Bookseller Inventory # 9780373138937