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Samantha learns of a strange request in her father's will--that she move to New York to solve the mystery of her grandmother's disappearance.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Jude Deveraux is the author of more than forty New York Times bestsellers, including Moonlight in the Morning, The Scent of Jasmine, Scarlet Nights, Days of Gold, Lavender Morning, Return to Summerhouse, and Secrets. To date, there are more than sixty million copies of her books in print worldwide. To learn more, visit JudeDeveraux.com.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
From "Chapter One"
Fifteen minutes after Samantha Elliot landed in New York, her wallet was stolen. She knew it was her own fault, because she had reached inside her purse to get a tissue and forgotten to close the zipper, so all the thief had to do was slip his or her hand inside and remove her wallet. One MasterCard, one American Express gone, as well as most of her money. At least she'd had sense enough to put a hundred and fifty dollars in her carryon, so she wasn't destitute.
After she discovered the theft, she had the brand-new learning experience of canceling her credit cards. To Samantha everything that had happened was traumatic: coming to the big, bad city of New York for the first time, being welcomed by a pickpocket, and having to cancel her charge cards. To the bored young woman behind the claims counter, these were all things that happened fifty times a day. Handing Samantha forms to fill out, she pointed to a wall chart with the credit card companies' telephone numbers on them and told her to call them. While Samantha was on the telephone, the woman managed to crack her gum, polish her nails, talk to her boyfriend on the phone, and tell her colleague what she wanted for lunch, all at the same time. Samantha tried to tell the young woman about her lost wallet, tried to tell her that the wallet had belonged to her mother and had a leather lining printed with what her father had called a psychedelic design. But the woman gave Samantha a blank look and said,"Yeah, sure." If the woman hadn't just demonstrated that she had enough intelligence to do several tasks at the same time, Samantha would have thought from the blank expression in her eyes that she was terminally stupid.
By the time Samantha got away from the lost articles department, her suitcase had been locked into a glass-fronted room and she had to find a guard to open it -- no mean feat, because no one she spoke to knew who had the key to the room. In fact, no one seemed to know the locked room even existed.
By the time she got her suitcase, pulling it along behind her on a wheeled cart, her carryon slung over her shoulder, she was shaking with exhaustion and frustration.
Now all she had to do was get a taxi, the first taxi she had ridden in in her life, and get into the city.
Thirty minutes later, she was inside the dirtiest automobile she had ever seen. It stunk of cigarette smoke so strongly she thought she might be sick, but when she tried to roll down the window, she found that both of the inside handles of the doors were missing. She would have spoken to the driver, but his name on the paper under the meter seemed to be spelled mostly with x's and k's, and he didn't seem to speak much English.
Looking out the dirty window of the cab, trying not to breathe, she attempted the impossible task of not thinking of anything at all, not where she was, why she was there, or how long she was going to have to stay.
The cab drove under a bridge that looked as though it should have been condemned, then down streets filled on both sides with tiny, dirty-windowed shops. When the driver asked for the address for the third time, Samantha gave it to him yet again, trying not to relay her frustration to him. The paper her father's attorney had given her said the apartment was in a brownstone, located in the East Sixties, between Park and Lexington.
When the driver slowed, looking for the address, she was on a street that seemed quieter and less cluttered than the other areas they had driven through. After the cab stopped, she paid the driver, quickly tried to calculate the tip, then removed her two bags without his help from the floor of the car.
Looking up at the building in front of her, she saw a five-story house that was only two windows wide. It was a very pretty town house, with a tall staircase leading up to a door with a fanlight over it. A wisteria vine growing up the left side of the house all the way to the roof was covered with purple buds just about to burst into bloom.
Samantha pushed the doorbell, then waited. There was no answer. Even after three rings and fifteen minutes, there still was no answer.
"Of course," she said, sitting down on her suitcase. What had she expected? That the landlord would be there to give her a key to the outside door? Just because she had written him and informed him of her arrival time didn't mean he should bother himself to be there to open the door for her. What did it matter to him that she wanted a shower and to sit down on something that wasn't moving?
As she sat on her suitcase waiting for the man, wondering if he was going to show up at all, she speculated about what she would do in a city the size of New York with no place to stay. Could she take a taxi to a hotel and spend the night there? Could she get her father's attorney to wire her more money until she could open a bank account in New York?
Several more minutes went by, but no one came, nor did any of the passersby seem to notice her. A couple of men smiled at her, but she pointedly looked away.
While Samantha was sitting at the top of the stairs, she looked to the side and noticed that at ground level was another door into the house. Maybe that was the front door of the house and she was to knock there.
Not knowing whether it was safe or not to leave her bags on the top of the stoop, she decided to leave them and pray they weren't stolen. Going down the stairs and around them to the ground floor door, she walked around a pretty wrought-iron spike-tipped fence and knocked several times, but there was no answer.
Taking a deep breath, her fists clenched, she looked back up at her suitcases sitting safely at the top of the stairs. Beside the ground floor door was a box of red geraniums, and the sight of the flowers made her smile. At least the flowers seemed happy: They were well cared for, not a dead leaf was on them, the soil was moist but not wet, and the flowers were heavy with bloom.
Still smiling, she started toward the stairs, but just as she rounded the corner, a football came whizzing so close over her head that she ducked. When the flying football was followed by what looked to be a couple hundred pounds of male clad in denim shorts and a sweat shirt with both armholes torn out to the waist, Samantha moved to slam herself flat against the wall of the stairs.
At least she tried to get out of the way of the man, but she wasn't fast enough. He caught the football as it sailed over her head, then, startled, he saw her just as he was about to land on her. At the same time that he released the ball, he reached out to catch Samantha before she fell against the spikes of the fence.
Giving a little gasp as she nearly fell, his hands caught her and pulled her to him in a protective way.
For a moment she stood encircled by his arms. He was taller than her five foot four, probably just at six feet, but the protective way he bent toward her made them almost eye level with each other. They were nearly isolated, with, the tall stairs behind them, the next house's stairs not far in front of them, the fence and flower box nearby. Samantha started to say thank you to the man, but as she looked at him, she forgot what she was going to say.
He was an extraordinarily good-looking man, with black, curling hair, heavy black brows, and dark eyes with eyelashes any female would kill for, all atop a full-lipped mouth that looked as though it belonged on a sculpture by Michelangelo. He might have looked feminine if his nose hadn't been broken a couple of times and he didn't have three days' growth of black whiskers on his chin and if his finely sculpted head weren't sitting on top of a body that bulged with muscle. No, he didn't look feminine. All the eyelashes in the world couldn't make this man look less than one hundred percent male. In fact, maleness oozed from him, making Samantha feel small and helpless, as though she were wearing yards of lavender lace. He even smelled male, not the artificial smell that could be purchased in a store; this man smelled of pure male sweat, a little beer, and acres of bronzed skin warmed by sun and exercise.
But it was the man's mouth that fascinated her. He had the most beautiful mouth she'd ever seen on a human being. It was full and sculptured, looking both hard and soft at the same time, and she couldn't take her eyes off of it. When she saw those lips moving toward her own, she didn't move away. He placed his lips on hers, softly at first, as though asking permission. Samantha, reacting to instinct and need and to something even more basic, opened her mouth slightly under his, and he pressed closer. Had her life depended on it, she couldn't have moved her lips away from his warm, sweet mouth, but when she put her hand up in half-hearted protest, she came in contact with his shoulder. It had been a long time since she had felt male skin near her own. And she had never felt a shoulder such as this one. Hard, firm muscle rounded over the top of his arm, and Samantha's hand curved over the muscle, her fingers digging into the resilient flesh.
When her hand closed over his arm, he leaned closer, his big, hard, heavy body pressing against hers, pinning her close to the wall. Samantha's hand slipped to his back, slipped under his open-sided shirt and met with the contours of the muscle on his back.
A moan escaping her lips, her body began to sink into his.
Putting one big hand behind her head, he turned her to the side and began to kiss her with all the passion she had missed in her life. He kissed her the way she had always wanted to be kissed, had dreamed of being kissed, kissed her the way fairy tales are supposed to end, the way all the books say a kiss should feel -- the way no one had ever kissed her before.
As he moved one of his big, muscular thighs between her much smaller ones, Samantha's arms went fully around his neck, pulling him closer, pulling him as close as he could come to her.
Moving his mouth away from hers, he kissed her neck, kissed her ear lobe as his hands moved down her back. Cupping her buttocks in his hands, he moved her so most of her weight was on his thigh, then ran one hand down the length of her leg and lifted it, settling her ankle about his waist.
"Hey Mike, you're drawin' a crowd.
At first Samantha didn't hear the voice, didn't hear anything; she only felt.
It w...as the man who broke away. Pulling his lips from her skin, he put his hand to her cheek, caressing her cheek with his thumb while looking into her eyes, smiling at her.
"Hey, Mike, this your long-lost cousin or somebody you picked up on the street?"
Leaning forward, the man gave Samantha one more soft kiss then took her ankle from his waist and held her hand.
It was when he moved away from her that Samantha began to think again. And the first emotion she felt was horror, absolute, sheer horror at what she had done. She tried to snatch her hand from the man's grasp, but he held her fast.
There were three sweaty men who looked as though they wore their cigarettes rolled up in their T-shirt sleeves and drank beer for breakfast standing in front of them, all with leers on their faces, all with smirking expressions, as though they knew something they weren't supposed to know. "You gonna introduce us or not?"
"Sure," the man said, holding onto Samantha's hand in spite of her tugs as he pulled her forward. "I'd like you to meet..." Turning, he looked at her in question.
Samantha looked away from him; she didn't want to look in his face again. No mirror was needed to tell her that her own face was brilliant red with embarrassment. "Samantha Elliot," she managed to whisper.
"Oh, yeah?" the man holding her hand said, then looked back at the three men, who were now nudging each other at this new knowledge that Mike didn't know the woman he had moments before been kissing as though he meant to swallow her whole.
"I'd like you to meet my tenant," the man said with a grin. "She's going to be living in my house with me." The pride and delight in his voice came through clearly.
Giving a sharp jerk on her hand, Samantha freed herself from his grip. She would have thought her mortification could not deepen, but at the realization of who this man was, it did. Horror, humiliation, panic, revulsion were all emotions that crowded into her, and she wanted to flee. Or die. Or preferably both.
"Some roommate!" Laughing in a vulgar way, one of the men looked her up and down.
"You wanta live with me, baby, just let me know," the second man said.
"With you and your wife," the third man said, hitting the second one in the ribs. "Honey, I'm not married. I'll take real good care of you. Better than Mike would -- or could."
"Get out of here!" Mike yelled back good-naturedly, no animosity in his voice, just good humor as he picked up the football and tossed it to them.
One of the men caught the ball, and the three of them went down the street, punching each other and laughing as they walked.
The man turned to her. "I'm Mike." Putting out his hand to shake, he didn't seem to understand when Samantha only stared at him. "Michael Taggert." When she still didn't respond, he began to explain. "Your landlord. You wrote me a letter, remember?"
Not saying a word, Samantha walked past him, careful not to touch him, and went up the stairs. Her luggage was in her hands before he was beside her.
"Wait a minute while I open the door. I hope the apartment's all right for you. I had a crew come in and clean the place and put clean sheets on your bed. I'm sorry I wasn't here when you arrived, but I lost track of the time and -- Hey! Where are you going?"
A suitcase in, each hand, Samantha had gone down the stairs and was three houses down the block by the time he got the door unlocked.
Bounding down the stairs two at a time, Mike came to a stop in front of her and reached out to take her bags, but she jerked them away from him, trying to walk around him, but he wouldn't let her pass.
"You're not mad because I was late, are you?"
Giving him a quick, hard glare, Samantha again tried to move around him. After three pivots and his blocking of every one of them, she turned and started walking in the other direction, but he blocked her that way too. Finally, she stopped and glared at him. "Would you please let me pass?"
"I don't, understand," he said. "Where are you going?"
Intelligent stupid people, she thought. Was this city full of them? Still glaring at him, she said,"Mr. Taggert, I am going to find a hotel."
"A hotel? But I have your apartment ready for you. You haven't even seen it yet, so you can't dislike it. It's not me, is it? I told you I was sorry I was late. I'm not usually late, but my watch got wet last week and it's in the shop and I couldn't tell what time it was. And those bozos I was with probably couldn't tell time if they had a watch and could figure out how to buckle it on."
Giving him a look that was meant to wither him on the spot, Samantha moved around him.
He wasn't to be put off so easily as he stepped back in front of her and started walking backward. "It's the guys, isn't it? Pretty crude, aren't they? I apologize for them. I only see them when I want to toss a ball around with someone and at the gym. I mean, I don't see them socially, if that's what's worrying you. You won't have to see them in our house. I promise."
Halting for a moment, Samantha had to marvel at the man. How could he be so very beautiful and understand so very little? She forced herself to look away ...
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Simon & Schuster Audio, 1992. Audio Cassette. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110671791907
Book Description Simon & Schuster Audio, 1992. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0671791907