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Authors: Carla Neggers

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Kiss the Moon

BOOK: Kiss the Moon
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Praise for the novels of Carla Neggers

“No one does romantic suspense better!”

—Janet Evanovich

“Worth the wait. Well plotted, with Neggers’ trademark witty dialogue and crackling sexual tension, this is a keeper.”


RT Book Reviews
on
The Whisper

“Suspense, romance and the rocky Maine coast…
The Harbor
has it all. Carla Neggers writes a story so vivid you can smell the salt air and feel the mist on your skin.”

—Tess Gerritsen

“A believable, gripping story that will keep armchair sleuths guessing… Here is intelligent writing that remains highly entertaining.”


Publishers Weekly
on
Betrayals

“Neggers’ trademark use of atmospheric mood and setting, including the mist of the title itself, comes front and center. What she’s done is add aspects of the high-action thriller to traditional romantic suspense, combining the best of both in creating a genre all her own. Flat-out great.”


Providence Journal
on
The Mist

“Well-drawn characters, complex plotting and plenty of wry humor are the hallmarks of Neggers’ books.”


RT Book Reviews

“When it comes to romance, adventure and suspense, nobody delivers like Carla Neggers.”

—Jayne Ann Krentz

Also by CARLA NEGGERS

COLD DAWN

THE WHISPER

COLD RIVER

THE MIST

BETRAYALS

COLD PURSUIT

TEMPTING FATE

THE ANGEL

ABANDON

CUT AND RUN

THE WIDOW

BREAKWATER

DARK SKY

THE RAPIDS

NIGHT’S LANDING

COLD RIDGE

THE HARBOR

STONEBROOK COTTAGE

THE CABIN

THE CARRIAGE HOUSE

THE WATERFALL

ON FIRE

CLAIM THE CROWN

CARLA NEGGERS

KISS THE MOON

Dear Reader,

Whenever I think about
Kiss the Moon,
I can feel early spring in northern New England, with its lengthening days, maple-sugaring and end of “cabin fever.” It’s the perfect time of year to set a story about an adventurous woman who discovers the wreckage of a long-missing private plane and a mystery that’s anything but forgotten.

Many of you have asked when
Kiss the Moon
will be available again—it’s great to see it back in print! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you’re ever in New Hampshire, be sure to visit the lakes region! We go there often, first having visited as a child when my family joined friends on a small island in beautiful, crystal-clear Lake Winnipesaukee.

Next up for me is the paperback edition of
The Whisper,
due out in paperback this July. It’s the fourth book in my loosely connected series about Boston detectives, FBI agents, spies and experts in Irish archaeology and folklore.
The Widow, The Angel
and
The Mist
are all available now in paperback. In
The Whisper,
Cyrus “Scoop” Wisdom takes center stage when a Celtic archaeologist looks him up, convinced that the bomb that almost killed him is connected to the night she was left for dead in a remote Irish cave.

In the meantime, I’m hard at work on a new book. For all the details, please visit my website and sign up for my newsletter.

Thanks, and happy reading!

Carla

P.O. Box 826

Quechee VT 05059

www.CarlaNeggers.com

To Kate and Zachary

Prologue

F
rannie Beaudine had the intelligence of a Katharine Hepburn and the sexiness of a Marilyn Monroe, and he couldn’t believe she was his. That such a woman had fallen for him, Colt Sinclair, a skinny twenty-one-year-old, filled him with a pride and contentment he’d never known.

She paced in front of the tall windows of his family’s sprawling apartment on Central Park, Manhattan glittering at her feet. Her long, dark hair was swept into an elegant twist, and she wore diamond studs at her ears—fake diamonds, for she couldn’t afford real ones. She’d even borrowed her gown, a swirl of black velvet that barely contained her breasts. Her lips and nails were painted a deep red, sexy, vibrant.

Colt said nothing about the thrill he felt just watching her. Complimenting her appearance would only irritate her, add to her already heightened state of impatience. Frannie despised being beautiful. She believed it distracted people from noticing her other attributes—her skills as a pilot and art historian, her independence, her spirit of adventure. She wanted
everything,
she’d told Colt last summer in New Hampshire, when she still regarded him as a gawky Dartmouth graduate, a pampered rich boy. She was already something of a legend in her hometown, a poor girl from the hills who’d become an accomplished and daring pilot while simultaneously studying art history, not at a college, not with a tutor, but on her own, at the public library.

Colt, who’d been born with the “everything” Frannie wanted, knew she would get her wish. But he also knew her beauty wouldn’t be a hindrance, it would be an asset. And it was.

She’d asked him to fly tonight. Just six weeks ago she’d seemed so remote and unattainable. He fell short as a Sinclair. His father had told him as much less than an hour ago.

But now he was with Frannie, and all things were possible.

Her eyes, a deep, almost navy blue, were vivid, shining as they focused on him, and she stopped pacing just for an instant. He could feel her urgency. “You’re sure there won’t be a problem with the plane?”

“I’m positive. Everything’s ready, Frannie. Unless you change your mind, we’ll be on our way before midnight.”

She nodded, taking in a sharp, shallow breath. They had everything planned almost to the minute. First they would make an appearance at the reception honoring the donation of the Sinclair Collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Colt’s father had offered Frannie a job last fall as an assistant curator for the collection, and she’d seized it as her chance to live in New York. Colt had been barely aware she was in the city. She worked exhaustively all winter, seldom emerging as she catalogued, picked, chose, examined, checked and rechecked the history and authenticity of every painting, sculpture, artifact and bit of treasure that the Sinclairs had collected over the past century and stored in their warehouse on the lower east side. His family’s trips to South America, Central America, Africa, Asia, Russia, Australia had all yielded their prizes. Frannie worked without a break, and Colt had to admire her dedication even as he worried about how pale and weak she was from overwork, even now, six weeks after he’d spotted her at the museum and she’d turned his life upside down.

She would want to collect her kudos tonight for the brilliant work she’d done. Colt understood. Frannie Beaudine was a woman consumed with the need for recognition and affection.

In the second stage of their plan, they would make their apologies and leave early, separately, within a decent interval of each other. They had warm clothes waiting in the hangar north of the city, and Colt’s Piper Cub J-3, ready to fly. A grand adventure. That was what he and Frannie were embarking on. It wasn’t a lion hunt in Africa or an attempt at Mount Everest, but it was, finally, an adventure Colt felt the courage to undertake. He loved Frannie with all his heart and soul. That she wanted to run away with him, now, tonight, didn’t have to make sense, didn’t require a five-year plan, a vetting by a menagerie of Sinclair advisors. It required only faith, trust and the willingness to take action. All his life, one of those had been missing. Not now.

“Then there’s nothing more to do but get on with it,” Frannie said. “Your father and mother are already at the reception. We should go.”

“I’d just like to say goodbye to Brandon.” Colt observed a rare flash of nervousness in her eyes. She knew if anything could give him cold feet, it would be his baby brother. “He’s asleep.”

“Hurry.”

Colt had rehearsed this moment a thousand times in his mind. He hurried down the hall, hardly making a sound on the thick carpeting, his heart racing, his hands clammy. He passed portraits and photographs of uncles and great-uncles, cousins, his grandfather, on various adventures. There would be no photographers to record his adventure. He didn’t want notoriety or adulation.

He just wanted Frannie Beaudine, he thought, his pace slowing as he approached his brother’s half-closed door.

He pushed the door open, and his throat caught at the sprawl of boy and stuffed animal in the bed, the city lights silhouetting his bony figure. He wore pajamas with little cars and trucks on them.

Unexpected, unrehearsed tears stung Colt’s eyes. He doubted he would see his brother again for months, perhaps a year. He would have given up Bear by then, lost his boyish imagination and possibility. Sometimes Colt longed for his own boyhood, when he had liked nothing better than to roam around in the Museum of Natural History. His father had assumed his mind was filled with fantasies of becoming a Sinclair. Instead he’d memorized the form and the colors, the shapes, the essence of the birds and animals and tools on display. In dark corners, where no one would find him, he would pull out scraps of paper and a nub of charcoal and try to capture what he’d memorized.

Sinclair men did not become artists.

If Frannie hadn’t fallen in love with him, Colt was certain he would have thrown himself off the Empire State Building by now. And then he would never have seen Brandon again. Now, at least, there was a chance.

He gave his sleeping brother a mock salute and tiptoed down the hall, where Frannie was waiting for him. She had no brothers and sisters. She couldn’t know the agony of what he’d just done.

Ten minutes later they were at the museum. They made small talk and drank champagne and pretended not to be in love, and Colt thought Frannie was the most beautiful and alluring woman in the room. She seemed at ease with everyone—scholar, rich donor, journalist, poor art student—and she talked knowledgeably and passionately about the collection of art and treasure she’d helped put together even as people asked her when she would again climb into a cockpit. She was unique, and Colt could hardly contain himself at the thought that she loved him.

He avoided his father, fearful Willard Sinclair would penetrate his older son’s mind and find out what he was planning. When the time came, Colt had no intention of telling his father goodbye. His mother, either. She would be impossible to extricate from her friends and her champagne.

Across the room, he saw Frannie, impatient, unable to stay still, slip down a dark corridor past indulgent guards. Colt followed, stifling a surge of panic. What was she doing? They were to make their apologies and separate exits in minutes. He glanced at his father, who was regaling eager listeners with tales of his latest expedition up the Amazon. If only he could give his two sons as much care and attention, Colt thought bitterly, and tried to ignore the tug of regret for his brother, who would no longer have a buffer between their father’s increasingly domineering temperament and Brandon’s zeal to take him on. After tonight, Brandon, just eleven, would be on his own, at least for a while.

Colt shook off his sudden melancholy and followed Frannie into the bowels of the museum, where she had been granted a closet-size office to continue her work on the Sinclair Collection. She used her key to open it, moving quickly. He could hear her rapid breathing. She left the door ajar, but he remained in the dark shadows, trying to ignore a sense of foreboding. This wasn’t in their plan.

Seconds later she emerged from the tiny room, and he heard her check a laugh.

In her hand was a black, hard-sided case the size of a small artist’s painting case.

Colt took a step forward, and she stopped, her already pale face going paler still. “Colt, good heavens, you startled me!”

“Frannie?” He pointed. “What’s in the case?”

She caught him by the arm and pulled him down the corridor. “It’s no time for questions,” she whispered fiercely, “or for the fainthearted. You’re in, Colt. You’re in all the way.”

“Frannie…”

“We have to go.”

He didn’t move. He didn’t speak.

“Now.”

Wisps of hair dripped from their pins, her dark blue eyes shone even in the shadows, and her chest heaved, not from fear but breathlessness. Excitement. She was so certain. Always so certain. He hadn’t asked about how many men she’d loved. She was twenty-six, and she was Frannie Beaudine, beautiful, intelligent, spirited.

Her expression softened. “Colt…I can’t do this without you.”

Still he didn’t move. “What’s in the case, Frannie?”

Her lower lip quivered, the red stain gone, and he could see uncertainty creep into her eyes.

“It’s something from the collection,” he said.

“Of
course
it’s something from the collection. Diamonds, Colt. Valuable, perfect diamonds of an uncertain provenance. No one but me even knows they exist. God knows how long they sat in that dusty warehouse.”

“Frannie, I can’t.”

Irritation set her jaw. “It’s the only way for us to be together. You know that as well as I do. Colt—please, we have to go. If the guards catch us now, it won’t be Canada we’ll be seeing at dawn, it’ll be the bars of the jailhouse.”

He followed her out. There was nothing else he could do. They would take a cab to the airfield where his Piper Cub was waiting. She’d asked him to fly it. He’d been so stupidly pleased. Now he knew he was a romantic, idealistic fool, just as his father had told him.

In the cab, Frannie covered his hand with hers. “I do love you, Colt Sinclair.”

Maybe she did. He stared out the cab window as they crossed the bridge. It was a cold night for flying, but they had a full moon. It was so huge, and it seemed so heavy and big that even the night sky couldn’t hold it. Colt pretended he was on it, looking down at the shiny cab, at the beautiful aviator, the rich twenty-one-year-old and their stolen diamonds. He had fancied them living by their skill and wits in Canada until his family accepted them and what they’d done. But Frannie had wanted it all, and she’d wanted it now.

For six weeks, Colt had deluded himself into thinking he was enough.

He remembered reading
Treasure Island
aloud to his little brother under a full moon last summer, and he wished he could be with Brandon now, poking him in the ribs and sneaking him into the kitchen for hot cocoa.

Wouldn’t their father be surprised, Colt thought. He was a Sinclair, after all. He had given up the love of his brother for a misguided, wild adventure, and in so doing, he had given up himself.

It was, of course, the Sinclair way.

BOOK: Kiss the Moon
13.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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