Authors: Cindy Gerard
But ever the optimist, an image of Maggie Adams, a prickly and pouty enigma who had been just this side of perfect, drifted through his mind.
At least she’d been perfect to a smart-aleck seventeen-year-old. Back then, he’d been ruled by a healthy ego, raging hormones and a heart that had throbbed like a kettle drum every time he’d come within ogling distance of her thick chestnut hair, her brown-eyed glare and her long, luscious legs.
Lord, those legs.
He used to fantasize about those legs. The last time he’d seen them in the flesh was that summer fifteen years ago—there on the very dock where his libido had just convinced his brain he’d seen them today.
He scoped out the bay, rechecked the wind and decided on an approach. No way was he flying off into the wild blue without checking this out…
Cowboys and cops…sexy men with a swagger…just the kind of guys to make your head turn.
what we’ve got for you this month in Silhouette Desire.
The romance begins when Taggart Jones meets his match in Anne McAllister’s wonderful MAN OF THE MONTH,
The Cowboy and the Kid.
This is the latest in her captivating CODE OF THE WEST miniseries. And the fun continues with Mitch Harper in
A Gift for Baby,
the next book in Raye Morgan’s THE BABY SHOWER series.
Cindy Gerard has created a dynamic hero in the
masculine form of J. D. Hazzard in
The Bride Wore Blue,
book #1 in the NORTHERN LIGHTS BRIDES series. And if rugged rascals are your favorite, don’t miss Jake Spencer in Dixie Browning’s
The Baby Notion,
which is book #1 of DADDY KNOWS LAST, Silhouette’s new cross-line continuity. (Next month, look for Helen R. Myers’s
Baby in a Basket
as DADDY KNOWS LAST continues in Silhouette Romance!)
Gavin Cantrell is sure to weaken your knees in
by Caroline Cross, part of the delightful BACHELORS AND BABIES promotion. And Jackie Merritt—along with hero Duke Sheridan—kicks off her MADE IN MONTANA series with
Heroes to fall in love with—and love scenes that will make your toes curl. That’s what Silhouette Desire is all about Until next month—enjoy!
All the best,
Please address questions and book requests to:
Silhouette Reader Service
U.S.: 3010 Walden Ave., P.O. Box 1325, Buffalo, NY 14269
Canadian: P.O. Box 609, Fort Erie, Ont. L2A 5X3
This book is dedicated to Debbie Sheets, Patti Knoll,
Glenna McReynolds and Anna Eberhardt. Every writer
should be so blessed to have such special friends to turn to
for strength, support and inspiration.
My special thank you to Greg Gunderson for answering a
multitude of questions about his beautiful 1956 Cessna.
And to Mike Deroma—thanks for the terrific ride!
The Cowboy Takes a Lady
Lucas: The Loner
The Bride Wore Blue
idea of heaven is a warm sun, a cool breeze, pan pizza and a good book. If she had to settle for one of the four, she’d opt for the book with the pizza running a close second. Inspired by the pleasure she’s received from the books she’s read and her long-time love affair with her husband, Tom, Cindy now creates her own sensual, evocative stories about compelling characters and complex relationships.
All that reading must have paid off because since winning the Waldenbooks Award for Bestselling Series Romance For a First-Time Author, Cindy has gone on to claim numerous awards, among them the prestigious Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence and the coveted National Readers’ Choice Award.
he sky was baby blanket blue, the wind a crisp fifteen knots. It was a perfect day for flying, but any day he was in the air was perfect as far as J. D. Hazzard was concerned.
“Right, Hershey?” He grinned at his four-year-old chocolate lab, who loved flying, pizza and chasing squirrels, in that order.
Hershey, his tongue lolling comically from the side of his mouth, dutifully glanced J.D.’s way, then poked his nose back out the window.
“Right,” J.D. confirmed, echoing his own sentiments. He lost his enthusiasm in the next breath, however, as the reason for this particular flight came back into play.
He set his mouth in a hard, tight line. Of all the jobs he had volunteered his services and those of his vintage fourseater Cessna for, this one he could do without. At least he could do without the reason for it—especially since he hadn’t had any luck finding the low-life poachers he was looking for.
Give him fire spotting, blast patrols on the Iron Range or search and rescue any day. Hunting poachers was never easy. This particular gang was the worst of their kind. They were cagey and sly and totally without remorse. If he had his way, he’d see the whole miserable lot hung out to dry before they killed another black bear for profit.
“You gotta find ‘em first,” he reminded himself grimly. It didn’t look like it was going to be today, though, he realized when the engine missed, then missed again.
Frowning, he decided he’d better call it quits and made a mental note to check the rocker arms after he landed. When he recognized the bay below him, though, he opted to circle the familiar inlet before packing it in.
“For old time’s sake,” he told himself, and let a wistful grin override his scowl. Old times and sweet times, he added as memories of a certain summer made him forget his foul mood.
It had been a long time since he’d wandered back to this end of Legend Lake. Longer still since he’d been a kid begging his dad for the keys to the boat so he could motor down the north shore, round the point and cruise into Blue Heron Bay.
Had it really been fifteen years? Diana Ross and Lionel Ritchie had been romancing the pop charts and the nation with “Endless Love.” J.D. had been endlessly and hopelessly in love himself—with the longest legs and the prettiest brown eyes known to God, man or imagination.
“You didn’t stand a chance in hell with her,” he reminded himself with a self-deprecating sigh as he pictured Maggie Adams, a sixteen-year-old siren who wouldn’t give him the time of day. Not back then. Not with his ego and his hormones outdistancing any attempt at
“Lord, were you a jerk,” he muttered with a full body shiver of disgust and a hindsight that had him shaking his head.
Another pronounced engine sputter knocked him back to the moment. He needed to head back to the base at Crane Cove Marina. One final, nostalgic look at the bay, however, had him doing a double take.
“What the hell…” he muttered when he spotted a figure on the dock.
Coaxing the aircraft’s temperamental and now actively missing engine into a wide, banking turn, he buzzed the bay again. He cut speed, dropped swiftly to a couple hundred feet and confirmed what he thought he’d seen.
It was a woman. And from the looks of it, a pretty one, doing what pretty women do when faced with water, sun and time on their hands.
She was stretched out on the dock, soaking up some rays. Her sleek one-piece swimsuit was neon blue and secondskin snug. And her legs…Damn. Would you look at those legs. Even from here, they seemed to stretch on forever. The last time he’d seen legs like those…
The thought sputtered like his engine, then surged back to life with a growing, yet disbelieving excitement. The last time he’d seen legs like those, they’d been attached to Maggie Adams.
“It can’t be, Hazzard,” he told himself, even as he knuckled under to a sweet anticipation that had his pulse pumping like a piston. “You couldn’t be that lucky. No way could it be her. Not after all these years.”
But the hope hung tight, growing as big as the sky and twice as compelling. Ever the optimist, wishful thinking outdistanced the improbable as an indelible image of Maggie, a prickly and pouty enigma who to his eyes had been just this side of perfect, drifted through his mind like a strong, potent drug.
At least she’d been perfect to a smart-assed seventeenyear-old, he thought with a derisive grin. Back then, he’d been ruled by a healthy ego, raging hormones and a heart that had throbbed like a kettle drum every time he’d come
within ogling distance of her thick chestnut hair, her brown-eyed glare and her long, luscious legs.
Lord, those legs.
Though it had been a while, he used to dream about those legs. Fantasize about those legs. The last time he’d seen them in the flesh was that summer fifteen years ago—-there on the very dock where his libido had just convinced his brain he’d seen them today.
Banking a sweet and escalating anticipation, he scoped out the bay, rechecked the wind and decided on an approach. No way in hell was he flying off into the wild blue without checking this out.
“Hang on, Hershey,” he said, hearing far more excitement in his voice than a man who’d experienced and enjoyed a number of women had cause to. “We’re about to pay the lady—whoever she is—a visit.”
Distant, intrusive, like the low, monotonous buzz of a pesky mosquito, the sound drifted in on a lazy lake breeze, infiltrating a quiet she’d come to relish. She tried to tune it out. It wouldn’t go away.
It was a plane, she finally realized with a scowl. While the location of the lake placed it well off any flight path, it wasn’t unheard of to see the occasional private or hired float plane cruising the skies of the north country. Unusual was the fact that this one sounded so close.
With a deep, irritated breath, she dragged herself reluctantly out of her perfect peace and opened her eyes.
The sun, a glazing ball of baking warmth in an endless ocean of blue, had her groping blindly along the weathered planks of the dock for her dark glasses. Finding them, she slipped them on without sitting up, then searched the sky.
It didn’t take long to spot the aircraft. It was a small, single-engine float plane. And not only was it close, it was
close, too low, and, it came to her with a sudden lurch
of her heart when a series of sputters and coughs interrupted the engine’s buzzing drone, in big trouble.
“Sweet Lord,” she whispered, jackknifing to a sitting position. Her heart stalled, skipped, then slammed against her ribs before shifting into hard, heavy thuds when the engine missed, then missed again.
He was coming down.
Too fast, too fast,
was all she could think as she watched the white wings and silver fuselage drop from the sky at a steep, dangerously reckless angle.
“Get on top of it,” she willed the pilot as she scrambled to her feet. Shaking her eyes against the glare of the sun bouncing off water, she held her breath, afraid to watch, afraid not to. Her heart danced in her throat as the plane skipped once, again, then settled like a big white bird onto the glassy calm surface of the bay.
She let out a long breath of relief, then shook her head in admiration. She’d logged more than her share of jet time over the years, but beyond buckling in and praying for a safe takeoff and landing, she didn’t know a thing about flying. She didn’t have to to know that the pilot had accomplished a major miracle.
As the plane taxied farther into the bay and she could make out not only the numbers on the tail but the fact that baling wire, yards of silver tape and a heavy reliance on luck were about the only things holding the plane together, she traded her admiration for anger.
Anyone with both oars in the water wouldn’t have been flying around in that beat-up relic to begin with. Up close and personal it was apparent that it had been a long time since the float plane had seen better days.
“Northlanders,” she muttered, already pegging the pilot as a local. It only made sense. They were a different breed of cat, the whole reckless lot of them.
Though she’d kept to herself, and her association with the sturdy, adventurous people of the lake had been limited
during the two months she’d been here, she’d learned that there wasn’t a boat they wouldn’t float, not a mountain they wouldn’t climb, not a dare they wouldn’t face down. She’d grown to love the people. She just wished she understood them and their reckless disregard for safety.
And why was the plane heading for
dock? she wondered crossly as it taxied slowly yet purposefully toward her. There were six other cabins spaced around the point. All of them were closer than hers. A few were occupied for the weekend. Some had phones—which she, by design, did not. She was here to get away from it all, not invite it in with electronics, fiber optics or conversation.
“Or fools in flight gear,” she muttered with a deepening scowl.
Why my dock?
The question played back again, niggling like a paper cut. Only this time, the mystery triggered unease instead of irritation. She’d been so concerned about the pilot making it down safely, she’d forgotten to be worried about herself. She’d let her guard down. It was a disturbing mental lapse she couldn’t afford—not if she wanted to ensure her solitude. And her safety, she added with a reluctant concession to an ugly piece of reality she hadn’t ever come to terms with.
With concentrated effort, she made herself stay put and reason out the situation. Rolfe would never think of looking for her here. He didn’t know about the cabin. No one did. No one could possibly know she was here. She’d covered her tracks too well. If someone found her it would be because she’d decided it was time to be found—and that was the million-dollar dilemma. She wasn’t sure if that time would ever come.
She studied the plane as it floated closer. It’s just some hot-shot Northlander who was out on a joy ride and ran mto trouble, she told herself rationally. Steeped in that conviction, she finally convinced herself she’d momentarily
overreacted. What she was dealing with here was some local yokel with a death wish and less than optimum gray matter. Though her anxiety abated, her scowl deepened as she crossed her arms beneath her breasts and waited while the wake generated from the landing washed the plane closer.
By the time the plane’s left float hit soundly against the wooden dock piling and the motor hiccuped to a stop, she’d decided to give the pilot a piece of her mind before she sent him on his way. Only her mind wasn’t up to sparing any parts when she got a look at the man who shouldered open the complaining cabin door.
He was a local all right. A born and bred by-product of hearty Finn and Swede ancestry who had settled this wild and beautiful country almost a hundred years ago. His Scandinavian lineage was so apparent that even before he looked up at her, slowly slipping off his mirrored aviator sunglasses, she’d known the eyes behind them would be blue.
Blue didn’t quite cover it, though, she was forced to admit, when she instinctively met his gaze. Blue was an understatement. A paltry description when faced with such a true, stunning hue. The sky was somehow captured in his eyes. The sky and the water, and the myriad shades that each could reflect on the most brilliant summer day.
She wasn’t prepared for the size of him, either, or for his bearing as he propped his sunglasses on top of a head of hair the color of toasted gold, clasped a strong, tanned hand around a leather grip attached above the cockpit doorway and hauled himself easily out of the cramped space.
He’d barely cleared the small opening and stepped onto a float when a huge brown dog scrambled out behind him. The wild ball of fur hit the float, then bounded onto the dock, nearly knocking her over in a desperate spring for the woods.
“Hershey!” he yelled, his deep voice scolding. When the dog just kept running, he gave her an apologetic shrug and nodded toward the spot in the tree line where the lab had disappeared into the dense forest. “Sorry. He usually has better manners. Guess it was past time for a tree break.”
She assumed a defensive stance, determined not to let the dog’s antics—or the man’s bearing—sway her. “If he was as afraid as I was of you making it down in one piece, I’m surprised he didn’t bail out sooner.”
“What? Oh, that?” His brows drew together before he jerked his head toward the engine. “That’s nothing a little tune-up can’t fix.”
He smiled at her then. Openly. Beautifully. And he just kept on smiling while she stood there armed only with a reluctant scowl that curiously wanted to ease into an answering grin.
It didn’t make any sense. Besides giving her a good scare, she didn’t find his attitude even marginally acceptable. His “well, well, what have we here” arrogance—even though good-natured—seemed to size her up in one practiced and perfected glance.
He was a cocky son of a gun, she concluded, her frown locking a little tighter as he turned back toward the cockpit. While he fiddled around, searching for something under the seat, she took the opportunity to catalog her immediate impressions.
His total lack of pretense completely put to rest any lingering concern that Rolfe might have sent him. Despite his size and unscheduled appearance, there was something about him that stated unequivocally that what you saw is what you got. No hidden agenda. No ulterior motives. Besides, subtlety wasn’t Rolfe’s style. If he’d found out she was here, he’d have come after her himself.
This man wasn’t anybody’s flunky. His black T-shirt and tight, worn jeans did little to conceal the measure of the man he was. Viking blond and Paul Bunyan brawn, he was
six-two if he was an inch. The quintessential Norse god, comfortable with his power, confident of his effect on women.
His jaw was firm and angular, his mouth full and wide, and as he ducked under a wing strut, swung around to face her fully and jumped onto the dock, a fat roll of silver tape clutched loosely in his big, tanned hand, that very mouth was still set in that exasperatingly expectant grin.
She shivered involuntarily, feeling both the warmth of fire and the cool of melting ice as he searched her face, then made a lazy, assessing sweep of her body from her head to her bare toes. When he met her eyes again, the corners of his were crinkled with a smug, warm pleasure and that infectious expectancy that should have put her on guard but somehow managed to intrigue her.