Authors: Jude Deveraux
FOR PASSION AND INTRIGUE, BEAUTY AND DANGER, READ THESE BELOVED NOVELS FROM
NEW YORK TIMES
“Engaging â¦ a delightful otherworldly fantasy.”
“This third chapter in [Darci Monroe's] life is by far the bestâ¦. Cannot be put down until the last word is readâ¦. Truly amazing.”
Romance Reviews Today
FOREVER AND ALWAYS
“An intriguing paranormal tale â¦ loaded with action.”
“Irresistibly eerie, yet decidedly a love story, Deveraux's offering bursts with high-spirited repartee and bizarre but bewitching characters.”
“[A] modern fairy taleâ¦. This is Deveraux at her most pleasurable.”
“Exciting â¦ filled with humor, romance, and the paranormal. Settle in for some exhilarating reading!”
Acclaim for Jude Deveraux's splendid yuletide bestseller
“A fast-paced tale with more than one deadly twistâ¦. [A] sexy story.”
“Readers who like their Christmas on the hot side should go straight to
â¦. Romance with a dash of mystery and threat.”
And for her other unforgettable
New York Times
“A not-to-be-missed novel â¦ that will keep you on the edge of your chair.”
“Forget garden-variety ghosts and poltergeistsâthe devil himself makes an appearance in Deveraux's romantic suspense novelâ¦. [Deveraux] does a superb job of building up to her chilling conclusion.”
“Unlike anything Deveraux has written previously â¦ uniquely intriguing â¦ always entertaining.”
“Incredible, wonderful, fantastic, superbâ¦. An unforgettable read.”
Romance Reviews Today
THE MULBERRY TREE
“Deveraux's touch is goldâ¦. Irresistible.”
“A twisted, unpredictable storyâ¦.”
“Mystery, romance, and good cooking converge in [
The Mulberry Tree
“Marvelously compelling readingâ¦. Deeply satisfying.”
“Deveraux â¦ blends three love stories into an emotionally stirring novel.”
“Deveraux is at the top of her game.”
“Entertaining summer reading.”
The Port St. Lucie News
“Filled with excitement, action, and insightâ¦. A nonstop thriller.”
âHarriet Klausner, Barnesandnoble.com
“[A] satisfying story.”
“Deveraux[âs] lively pace and happy endings â¦ will keep readers turning pages.”
The Velvet Promise
Twin of Fire
Twin of Ice
An Angel for Emily
The Mulberry Tree
A Knight in Shining Armor
Forever and Always
The sale of this book without its cover is unauthorized. If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that it was reported to the publisher as “unsold and destroyed.” Neither the author nor the publisher has received payment for the sale of this “stripped book.”
Publication of POCKET BOOKS
POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright Â© 2006 by Deveraux, Inc.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN-10: Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1-4165-0972-0
This Pocket Books paperback edition January 2006
10 Â Â 9 Â Â 8 Â Â 7Â Â 6Â Â 5Â Â 4Â Â 3Â Â 2Â Â 1Â Â
POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Cover design by Lisa Litwack
Cover photograph Â© Gen Nishino/Getty Images
Manufactured in the United States of America
For information regarding special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-800-456-6798 or [email protected]
Ariel Weatherly looked in the mirror and rehearsed her speech to her mother. “I am twenty-four years old and I will choose my own husband.” No, she thought. That's not right. “I have chosen the man I want to marry and I will do so.” Yes, better. Much better.
There was a soft knock on the door.
On impulse, Ariel messed up her hair. She liked what she saw.
“Come in,” Ariel said, and a maid opened the door.
“Your mother would like to see you downstairs.”
“Yes, of course,” Ariel replied with a sigh.
The maid looked behind her to make sure Mrs. Weatherly wasn't nearby. “I like your hair,” she said, then closed the door.
Ariel grabbed her brush and smoothed her hair, then she smiled. She wasn't sure yet, but she may have come up with a way to get out of marrying David, to marry the man she truly loved, and to keep from being disinherited. Still smiling, she left her room and started down the stairs. If only Sara would agree. She must! Ariel thought. If she doesn't â¦
But Ariel couldn't think of that now. She only knew that she'd use whatever means she had at her disposal to get her cousin to agree to her plan.
RIEL'S LETTER, THEN READ
it again. She couldn't believe her eyes. As always, the letter was written with a fountain pen on thick paper that Sara was sure cost half her year's salary. But it wasn't the extravagance that shocked her; she was used to that.
Ariel wanted to trade places with Sara. She wanted to be Sara, and Sara to be her.
“She wants to be
Sara whispered in wonder as she put the letter on her lap. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have the leisure to sit around all day
and plan adventurous schemes? she thought. Or time to plan anything, for that matter. Time to do anything other than whatever your egomaniac boss could think up for you to do? Sara had come to care about her cousin a great deal over the years, but that didn't keep her from being jealous.
Sitting in her tiny New York apartment, her feet up, exhausted from yet another day running around doing her boss's bidding, Sara gazed out the window to the brick wall across the alley. She could afford a better apartment, but after a lifetime of struggling to make ends meet, she'd rather have money in the bank than spend it. And then there was the fact that she was constantly telling her boss that she was quitting. If she quit, how long would it be before she got another job? But choosing to live as though it might all be gone tomorrow didn't make her feel any less jealous about her cousin's big house with the servants, and about the two trips a year that Ariel and her mother took to New York to buy clothes. What would it be like to have a dress made just for you? Sara wondered.
She looked down at the letter. “Just for a while,” Ariel had written. “Temporarily.” Sara
smiled at that. Poor Ariel, so spoiled, everything given to her. She wouldn't have a clue how to work for somebody like R. J. Brompton.
The whole idea was absurd, of course, but it was nice to daydream. In fact, Ariel's letter opened Sara's eyes to a secret she'd kept even from herself: She wanted to see Arundel, North Carolina. Not just see it as a tourist would, but see it from the inside. She wanted to make her own judgment about the place. Her father had told her Arundel was “the center of hell,” yet Ariel wrote of the glories of her hometown.
Sara knew she had relatives in Arundel, but she'd never met them. Because of old wounds, she was sure that if she showed up there as Sara Jane Johnson she wouldn't be welcome. But what if she got to know them as Ariel and showed them she wasn't like her father's side of the family? What would happen when she finally told them who she was? Would they welcome herâor hate her?
Getting to know the people of Arundel sounded good in theory, but the truth was, she was afraid of the place.
For seventeen years, what had been “done to
them” was Sara's father's favorite topic of conversationâif you can call monologues that never ended conversation. She'd heard in detail how her mother grew up as part of “the family” in Arundel, a place that, according to her father, was the center of all snobbery on earth. “It begins there and radiates outward,” he said. “Like the rays of the sun?” she asked when she was a child and still thought her father was actually talking to her. “No, more like a spreading disease,” he said. He told Sara that her mother had been one of the bluebloods, one of the elite, the four hundred, whatever he could think of to call them, but she had fallen in love with himâand that had been the end of her. Sara's father's family was dirt poor, like the sharecroppers of the olden days, he told her, making his family sound noble. “But your mother's family couldn't stand people who worked for a living,” he said. “Honest workers, that's all we were, but they