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Authors: Jude Deveraux

High Tide

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High Tide

Books by Jude Deveraux

The Velvet Promise

Highland Velvet

Velvet Song

Velvet Angel

Sweetbriar

Counterfeit Lady

Lost Lady

River Lady

Twin of Fire

Twin of Ice

The Temptress

The Raider

The Princess

The Awakening

The Maiden

The Taming

The Conquest

A Knight in Shining Armor

Wishes

Mountain Laurel

The Duchess

Eternity

Sweet Liar

The Invitation

Remembrance

The Heiress

Legend

An Angel for Emily

The Blessing

High Tide

Published by POCKET BOOKS

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.
www.SimonandSchuster.com

POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
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Copyright © 1999 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: 0-7434-5917-2

eISBN-13: 978-0-7434-5917-4

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High Tide

Prologue

“I won't do it,” Fiona said with an icy smile, then refused to say another word as she stared at the man across from her. It was a stare that usually stopped people in their tracks. In heels, Fiona was six feet tall—and when necessary, she used every inch of her height to intimidate.

James Garrett might be several inches shorter than she was, but he
did
own the company. “I did not say
if
you were willing to go,” he said quietly, his dark eyes as hard as the obsidian they resembled. “I said that you were going. My secretary has your tickets.” With that, he looked down at his desk as though the matter were finished and she was to leave his office.

But Fiona hadn't gotten where she was by being timid. “Kimberly needs me,” she stated flatly, her lips set so firmly they were little more than a line below her nose. Her chin
was elevated in such a way that she was looking down on top of his head. Were those hair plugs? she wondered.

“Kimberly can—” James Garrett shouted, then calmed himself. He was
not
going to tell her to sit down. He wasn't going to have her or anyone else saying he had a Napoleon complex or that tall women made him feel—“Sit!” he ordered.

But Fiona remained standing. “I need to get back to work. Kimberly needs a few adjustments, and I need to talk to Arthur about projections for the coming season.”

James counted to four, then turned his back on Fiona and looked out the window at the dark streets twenty stories below. New York in February, he thought: cold, windswept, bleak. Here he was offering his top executive a trip to Florida, and she was refusing.

Turning back to Fiona, he narrowed his eyes. “Let me put it this way. You go on this fishing excursion with this man or I'll separate you and Kimberly forever. Understand me?”

For a moment Fiona stared at him without comprehension. “But I
am
Kimberly,” she said in disbelief. “We can't be separated.”

James rubbed his hand over his face. “Three days, Fiona. Three days! That's all I'm asking. You spend three measly days with this man, then you never again have to leave the streets of New York. You can set up housekeeping in the middle of Saks for all I care. Now go! Pack! The plane leaves early tomorrow morning.”

Fiona had a few thousand words she wanted to say, but the man was, after all, her boss. And his threat of taking Kimberly away from her was more than she could bear. Kimberly and her family were Fiona's life. She had other
friends, other enjoyments, but Kimberly was everything. Kimberly was—

Fiona's thoughts paused as she passed James Garrett's secretary. The odious woman was smiling as she held Fiona's ticket in her bent hand.

“Bon voyage,” the woman said, smirking. As usual, she'd heard every word that had gone on in her boss's office. “We'll all see that Kimberly is tucked in every night. I'm sure she'll miss you dreadfully.”

As Fiona walked past the woman, her heels clicking, she took the tickets and smiled sweetly. “Get your raise, Babs?” James Garrett was notorious for his penny-pinching.

The secretary tried to snap the tickets back, but Fiona was too fast; she caught them and kept going.

Three days, Fiona thought as her long legs ate up the distance back to her office. Three days amid swamps, crocodiles, and … and some man who was
demanding
her presence.

“Just who the hell does he think he is?” she muttered as she strode into her office.

“Who does who think he is?” Gerald asked as he put Kimberly's new designs on Fiona's desk.

Fiona could hardly stand to look at them. James Garrett might think it was only three days, but to her it was—“Oh, hell!” she said as she glanced at her watch. It was nearly six, and tonight was Diane's birthday dinner.

Looking down at her assistant, Gerald, Fiona started to speak, but he beat her to it.

“No need to say a word; it's all over the office. Do you know
why
this man wants
you?
I mean other than the usual reason a man wants a …” He trailed off.

“I've never met him; I know nothing. But worse, I didn't have time to—”

“Buy Diane a present?” Gerald said, eyes sparkling, as he withdrew a beautifully wrapped gift from behind his back. “Ferragamo shoes, size six and a half,” he said. “Hope you don't mind if I snooped a bit in your private file, just to check sizes and—”

Fiona wasn't sure if she should thank him or slap him or just fire him. She kept everything on her computer, including what her friends and her many business associates liked or wore or collected. That Gerald had gone into this private file was certainly overstepping his duties as her executive assistant.

“Don't worry about a thing,” Gerald said as he removed her sheared beaver coat from the closet and held it up. “I'll take care of Kimberly and Sean and Warren, and I'll make sure the maps get to production. In fact, why don't you take a vacation and stay a little longer? I hear that Florida is wonderful this time of year.”

Reluctantly, Fiona pulled on her coat; then in the doorway, she turned back and smiled at Gerald. He was already standing behind
her
desk, looking at
her
designs.

“You change one hair on Kimberly and I'll bring back a crocodile and lock it in the toilet with you,” she said with her very sweetest smile, then turned and walked out.

“All right, tell me one more time,” Diane said just before she threw back her head and downed yet another shot of straight tequila. This was at least her fourth drink—or
may be it was her fifth. “You have to go where when and
why?”

“I don't know,” Fiona said in exasperation as she held up her hand to the waiter to bring her another drink. She knew she was going to regret this in the morning, but today had to be the worst day of her life. But now her four best friends in the world were here, and they wanted to share, so …

She looked at each face with love. They'd been together since they were kids, and—

“Hey! Wake up!” Ashley said. “No getting soppy on us. What is this all about? Is this man in love with you?”

“How could he be? I've never met him,” Fiona said. “From what I hear he's sixty-some and has a figure like Santa Claus.”

“But he's rich, right?” Jean said as she emptied her glass of iced tea. Long Island iced tea, as in vodka, gin, rum, and tequila mixed together.

“If he isn't rich now, he will be as soon as his show hits the market; then he'll—”

“Excuse me,” Susan said, interrupting Fiona as she lifted her triangle-shaped martini glass. Susan didn't really like martinis, but the glasses were so sexy it turned her on just holding one. “Not all of us live here in this fabulous city, and not all of us—”

“Yeah, yeah,” Jean said, laughing. “Don't start the I'm-a-poor-little-girl-from-Indiana routine.”

“Los Angeles,” Susan said, deadpan. It was a running joke of the two who lived in Manhattan about whether anything west of the Hudson was civilized or not.

“All right, calm down,” Fiona said, holding her hands up in a sign for peace. “I'll tell you all I know—but it's very little. A man from Texas, by the name of Roy Hudson, created
a children's show called
Raphael
. I know nothing about it except that it was such a big hit on his local TV station that it's been bought by one of the national channels.”

“Which one?” Jean asked.

“What does it matter?” Ashley asked. She had flown in from her home in Seattle the night before.

“PBS or NBC?”

“I see,” Ashley said. “Money.”

“Of course. Isn't that always what everything is about?”

“Are you going to let Fiona speak or not?” Susan said.

“There isn't much more,” Fiona said as she took another sip of her gin and tonic. “As there always is with these things, there'll be franchising, and Davidson wants the contract to manufacture the toys from the show. Simple.”

“Mmmm,”
Jean said. “So what do you—and Kimberly—have to do with this TV show? What's the name of it again? And what's it about?”

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