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Lyle sent Kate an apologetic glance. “As I told my father yesterday, the Sheridans have as much right as anyone to be a part of this town. As for the child, Kate and I will be discussing more about its disposition when she’s fully recovered her health.”

Kate stood up from the table, her eyes shooting blue fire. “Don’t bet on it, Lyle Wentworth,” she said. “In fact, if you ever even again mention to me the possibility of giving up my child, it will be the last time you’re welcome in this house.”

In spite of her vehemence, Lyle didn’t look convinced. His mother reached up to pat him at the side
of his tightened jaw. “You see, dear. This is what your father was trying to tell you.”

He pulled away from her touch.

“I’m going to suggest that we all get on with our daily business,” Carter said loudly. “I hear Caroline crying for her mother upstairs. And neither my wife nor I have time to waste listening to pointless whining.”

Mrs. Billingsley and Miss Potter looked as if they wanted to continue the confrontation, but both Lyle and his mother were ready to leave and turned to do so. Kate also got up and left the room to go upstairs to her baby. Jennie stood and said, “Good day, ladies,” then walked into the kitchen.

Carter smiled. “Did you need someone to show you the way out?” he asked them.

Finally the two women turned to leave, their faces glowering. Carter watched them go, took a look at his pocket watch once more, then moved toward the kitchen.

“I couldn’t believe you said those things,” Jennie said without turning around when he came in through the swinging kitchen door.

“To the battle-axes? I should have said them a long time ago.”

“But what about…couldn’t they hurt you if you stand for election?”

Carter shrugged and walked across the kitchen to take her shoulders and turn her around to face him. “I don’t care. I’m more concerned with them hurting Kate and her sister, who happens to also be the woman I love.”

Jennie looked up at him, her brown eyes wide. “The woman you love?” she repeated softly.

He nodded. “The woman I’ve probably loved from the time she first stood on that stoop out there and ordered me off her property.”

Jennie smiled and shook her head. “You couldn’t have loved me then.”

“You may be right. It might have still been lust at that point”

She burst out laughing. “Lust, eh? I’ve been warned about men like you, Mr. Jones.”

He had backed her up against the kitchen counter so that the lower portions of their bodies were pressed together. “I would hope so, Mrs. Jones.”

“I’ve been warned against lustful, ambitious men who use people for their own purposes, then discard them like old newspapers.” She was having trouble finishing her speech because Carter had started nuzzling her neck and his hands were making small circles on her breasts.

“Discard them sometimes that very same day,” he agreed in grave tones between gentle nips along her jaw.

“So how would I ever learn to trust a man like that?” The question became breathless toward the end.

“I’ve heard that once in a great while it’s possible to tame such a scoundrel.”

Jennie drew in a sharp breath as his fingers pulled at her nipples. “How…ahh…how would one go about doing that?”

Carter whispered low in her ear. “You make him fall in love with you.”

She smiled against his cheek. “I didn’t think that kind of man fell in love.”

“Yes, they do. If they’re smart enough. And then they find that all those ambitions aren’t quite as important as they once thought they were.”

He pulled away from her to let her see that he was serious. But she moved him back against her. “And what about the lust? Do they give that up, too?” she asked archly.

“No. I think that’s the one vice that never gets tamed.” Then he kissed her, thoroughly and taking his time about it.

When she could speak again she made a little sound of contentment at the back of her throat and then murmured, “Oh, sweetheart, I’m so glad to hear that.”

His eyebrow raised and he gave her a wicked grin. “What would your silverheels do if their lunch was late today?”

She smiled back. “There’d be a riot most likely.”

Carter lifted her in his arms. “Hmm. A public disturbance, eh? Too bad. I hope they won’t call on the town prosecutor for help. He won’t be in his office.”

Jennie tucked her face into his shoulder as he started to carry her across the kitchen. “Where will he be?”

Carter paused a moment at the door and kissed her hard. “He’ll be busy making love to the cook.”

“In the middle of the day?” she asked, blushing.

“Uh-huh.” He nuzzled her neck as he pushed open the kitchen door and headed toward the stairs. “Do you think we may cause another scandal for Vermillion’s busybody matrons?”

Jennie returned her husband’s kiss, then gave a satisfied sigh. “I certainly hope so,” she said.

ANA SEYMOUR

I was delighted to be included in the tenth anniversary celebration, since I have an anniversary of my own to share.
A Family for Carter Jones
is my tenth Harlequin Historical novel. Appropriately, it’s a family story, and I’ve been proud to be part of the Harlequin Historicals family for the past six years.

Family is an important part of the Scandinavian heritage of my home state of Minnesota. I’ve raised my two daughters here, and they are a continuing inspiration for me to write stories about spirited women who create their own happy endings through intelligence, grace and the power of love.

eISBN: 978-14592-6136-5

A FAMILY FOR CARTER JONES

Copyright © 1998 by Mary Bracho

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher, Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9.

All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all incidents are pure invention.

This edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

® and TM are trademarks of the publisher. Trademarks indicated with ® are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Canadian Trade Marks Office and in other countries.

Printed in U.S.A.

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