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Authors: Linda Howard

Mackenzie's Pleasure

BOOK: Mackenzie's Pleasure
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Mackenzie's Pleasure

Linda Howard

Mackenzie's Pleasure..........................................................................1

Prologue........................................................................................1

Chapter 1.......................................................................................9

Chapter 2.....................................................................................14

Chapter 3.....................................................................................22

Chapter 4.....................................................................................29

Chapter 5.....................................................................................38

Chapter 6.....................................................................................47

Chapter 7.....................................................................................56

Chapters...................................................................................... 65

Chapter 9.....................................................................................72

Chapter 10...................................................................................80

Chapter 11...................................................................................87

Chapter 12...................................................................................95

Chapter 13.................................................................................104

Epilogue....................................................................................108

Mackenzie's Pleasure
is dedicated to all the wonderful fans who

fell as much in love with the Mackenzies as I did

Prologue

Wolf Mackenzie slipped out of bed and restlessly paced over to the window, where he

stood looking out at the stark, moonlit expanse of his land. A quick glance over his bare

shoulder reassured him that Mary slept on undisturbed, though he knew it wouldn't be long

before she sensed his absence and stirred, reaching out for him. When her hand didn't

encounter his warmth, she would wake, sitting up in bed and drowsily pushing her silky hair

out of her face. When she saw him by the window she would slide out of bed and come to

him, nestling against his naked body, sleepily resting her head on his chest.

A slight smile touched his hard mouth. Like as not, if he stayed out of bed long enough

for her to awaken, when they returned to the bed it wouldn't be to sleep but to make love.

As he remembered, Maris had been conceived on just such an occasion, when he had been

restless because Joe's fighter wing had just been deployed overseas during some flare-up. It

had been Joe's first action, and Wolf had been as tense as he'd been during his own days in

Vietnam.

Luckily, he and Mary were past the days when spontaneous passion could result in a new

baby. Nowadays they had grandkids, not kids of their own. Ten at the last count, as a matter

of fact.

But he was restless tonight, and he knew why.

The wolf always slept better when all of his cubs were accounted for.

Never mind that the cubs were adults, some of them with children of their own. Never

mind that they were, one and all, supremely capable of taking care of themselves. They were

his,
and he was there if they needed him. He also liked to know, within reason, where they were

bedding down for the night. It wasn't necessary for him to be able to pinpoint their location

—some things a parent was better off not knowing—but if he knew what
state
they were in, that

was usually enough. Hell, sometimes he would have been glad just to know which
country
they

were roaming.

His concern wasn't for Joe, this time. He knew where Joe was—the Pentagon. Joe

wore four stars now, and sat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Joe would still rather strap on a metal bird and fly at twice the speed of sound, but those

days were behind him. If he had to fly a desk, then he would damn sure fly it the best it could

be flown. Besides, as he'd once said, being married to Caroline was more challenging than being

in a dogfight and outnumbered four to one.

Wolf grinned when he thought of his daughter-in-law. Genius IQ, doctorates in both

physics and computer sciences, a bit arrogant, a bit quirky. She'd gotten her pilot's license

just after the birth of their first son, on the basis that the wife of a fighter pilot should know

something about flying. She had received her certification on small jet aircraft around the

time the third son had made his appearance. After the birth of her fifth son, she had

grumpily told Joe that she was calling it quits with that one, because she'd given him five

chances and obviously he wasn't up to the job of fathering a daughter.

It had once been gently suggested to Joe that Caroline should quit her job. The

company that employed her was heavily engaged in government contract work, and the

appearance of any favoritism could hurt his career. Joe had turned his cool, blue laser gaze

on his superiors and said, "Gentlemen, if I have to choose between my wife and my career, I'll

give you my resignation immediately." That was
not
the answer that had been expected, and

nothing else was said about Caroline's work in research and development.

Wolf wasn't worried about Michael, either. Mike was the most settled of all his children,

though just as focused. He had decided at an early age that he wanted to be a rancher, and

that's exactly what he was. He owned a sizable spread down toward Laramie, and he and his

wife were happily raising cattle and two sons.

The only uproar Mike had ever caused was when he decided to marry Shea Colvin. Wolf

and Mary had given him their blessing, but the problem was that Shea's mother was Pam

Hearst Colvin, one of Joe's old girlfriends—and Pam's father, Ralph Hearst, was as adamantly opposed to his beloved granddaughter marrying Michael Mackenzie as he had been to

his daughter dating Joe Mackenzie.

Michael, with his typical tunnel vision, had ignored the whole tempest. His only concern

was marrying Shea, and to hell with the storm erupting in the Hearst family. Quiet, gentle

Shea had been torn, but she wanted Michael and refused to call off the wedding as her

grandfather demanded. Pam herself had finally put an end to it, standing nose to nose with her

father in the middle of his store.

"Shea
will
marry Michael," she'd stormed, when Ralph had threatened to take Shea out of

his will if she married one of those damn breeds. "You didn't want me to date Joe, when he

was one of the most decent men I've ever met. Now Shea wants Michael, and she's going to

have him. Change your will, if you like. Hug your hate real close, because you won't be

hugging your granddaughter—or your great-grandchildren. Think about that!"

So Michael had married Shea, and despite his growling and grumping, old Hearst was nuts

about his two great-grandsons. Shea's second pregnancy had been difficult, and both she

and the baby had nearly died. The doctor had advised them not to have any more children, but

they had already decided to have only two, anyway. The two boys were growing up

immersed in cattle ranching and horses. Wolf was amused that Ralph Hearst's greatgrandchildren bore the Mackenzie name. Who in hell ever would have thought?

Josh, his third son, lived in Seattle with his wife, Loren, and their three sons. Josh was

as jet-mad as Joe, but he had opted for the Navy rather than the Air Force, perhaps because

he wanted to succeed on his own, not because his older brother was a general.

Josh was cheerful and openhearted, the most outgoing of the bunch, but he, too, had

that streak of iron determination. He'd barely survived the crash that left him with a

stiffened right knee and ended his naval career, but in typical Josh fashion, he had put that behind

him and concentrated on what was before him. At the time, that had been his doctor—Dr. Loren

Page. Never one to dither around, Josh had taken one look at tall, lovely Loren and begun his

courtship from his hospital bed. He'd still been on crutches when they married. Now, three

sons later, he worked for an aeronautics firm, developing new fighter aircraft, and Loren

practiced her orthopedic specialty at a Seattle hospital.

Wolf knew where Maris was, too. His only daughter was currently in Montana, working

as a trainer for a horse rancher. She was considering taking a job in Kentucky, working with

Thoroughbreds. From the time she'd been old enough to sit unaided on a horse, her

ambitions had all centered around the big, elegant animals. She had his touch with horses, able

to gentle even the most contrary or vicious beast. Privately Wolf thought that she probably

surpassed his skill. What she could do with a horse was pure magic.

Wolf's hard mouth softened as he thought of Maris. She had wrapped his heart around

her tiny finger the moment she had been placed in his arms, when she was mere minutes old, and

had looked up at him with sleepy dark eyes. Of all his children, she was the only one who had his

dark eyes. His sons all looked like him, except for their blue eyes, but Maris, who resembled

Mary in every other way, had her father's eyes. His daughter had light, silvery brown hair,

skin so fine it was almost translucent, and her mother's determination. She was all of five foot

three and weighed about a hundred pounds, but Maris never paid any attention to her slightness;

when she made up her mind to do something, she persisted with bulldog stubbornness until she

succeeded. She could more than hold her own with her older, much larger and domineering

brothers.

Her chosen career hadn't been easy for her. People tended to think two things. One

was that she was merely trading on the Mackenzie name, and the other was that she was

too delicate for the job. They soon found out how wrong they were on both counts, but it was

a battle Maris had fought over and over. She kept at it, though, slowly winning respect for her

individual talents.

The mental rundown of his kids next brought him to Chance. Hell, he even knew where

Chance was, and that was saying something. Chance roamed the world, though he always came

back to Wyoming, to the mountain that was his only home. He had happened to call earlier that

day, from Belize. He'd told Mary that he was going to rest for a few days before moving on.

When Wolf had taken his turn on the phone, he had moved out of Mary's hearing and quietly

asked Chance how bad he was hurt.

"Not too bad," Chance had laconically replied. "A few stitches and a couple of cracked

ribs. This last job went a little sour on me."

Wolf didn't ask what the last job had entailed. His soldier-of-fortune son occasionally

did some delicate work for the government, so Chance seldom volunteered details. The two

men had an unspoken agreement to keep Mary in the dark about the danger Chance faced

on a regular basis. Not only did they not want her to worry, but if she knew he was wounded,

she was likely to hop on a plane and fetch him home.

When Wolf hung up the phone and turned, it was to find Mary's slate blue gaze pinned

on him. "How bad is he hurt?" she demanded fiercely, hands planted on her hips.

Wolf knew better than to try lying to her. Instead he crossed the room to her and pulled

her into his arms, stroking her silky hair and cradling her slight body against the solid

muscularity of his. Sometimes the force of his love for this woman almost drove him to his

knees. He couldn't protect her from worry, though, so he gave her the respect of honesty.

"Not too bad, to use his own words."

Her response was instant. "I want him here."

"I know, sweetheart. But he's okay. He doesn't lie to us. Besides, you know Chance."

She nodded, sighing, and turned her lips against his chest. Chance was like a sleek

panther, wild and intolerant of fetters. They had brought him into their home and made him

one of the family, binding him to them with love when no other restraint would have held

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