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Authors: Susan Crosby

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The Groom's Revenge

BOOK: The Groom's Revenge
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Kate Fortune’s Journal Entry
There certainly have been a lot of weddings in the Fortune family lately. It’s a good thing we’ve hired such a capable wedding planner! That Mollie Shaw is just delightful. I do worry about her, though. She’s so trusting and innocent.-I’m sure Gray McGuire must ahve done something underhanded to convince her to marry him so quickly.
 
I know what you’re thinking—Kate Fortune, this is none of your business! After all, it’s not as if Mollie is family. And yet, since the day I met Mollie Shaw, I’ve felt some sort of...connection. You can dismiss it as the ramblings of an old woman, but take my word—Mollie is special. So you’d better watch your step, Gray McGuire. Harm that child and you’ll have
me
to deal with!
Dear Reader,
 
This May we invite you to delve into six delicious new titles from Silhouette Desire!
 
We begin with the brand-new title you’ve been eagerly awaiting from the incomparable Ann Major
Love Me True,
our May MAN OF THE MONTH, is a riveting reunion romance offering the high drama and glamour that are Ann’s hallmarks.
 
The enjoyment continues in FORTUNE’S CHILDREN: THE BRIDES with
The Groom’s Revenge
by Susan Crosby. A young working woman is swept off her feet by a wealthy CEO who’s mamed her with more than love on his mind—he wants revenge on the father who never claimed her, Stuart Fortune. A “must read” for all you fans of Daphne Du Maurier’s
Rebecca!
 
Barbara McMahon’s moving story
The Cowboy and the Virgin
portrays the awakening—both sensual and emotional—of an innocent young woman who falls for a ranching Romeo But can she turn the tables and corral
him?
Beverly Barton’s emotional miniseries 3 BABIES FOR 3 BROTHERS concludes with
Having His Baby
. Experience the birth of a father as well as a child when a rugged rancher is transformed by the discovery of his secret baby—and the influence of her pretty mom. Then, in her exotic SONS OF THE DESERT title,
The Solitary Sheikh
, Alexandra Sellers depicts a hard-hearted sheikh who finds happiness with his daughters’ aristocratic tutor And
The Billionaire’s Secret Baby
by Carol Devme is a compelling mariage-of-convenience story.
 
Now more than ever, Silhouette Desire offers you the most passionate, powerful and provocative of sensual romances. Make yourself merry this May with all six Desire novels—and buy another set for your mom or a close friend for Mother’s Day!
 
Enjoy!
 
Joan Marlow Golan
Senior Editor, Silhouette Desire
Please address questions and book requests to
Silhouette Reader Service
US. 3010 Walden Ave., P.O Box 1325, Buffalo, NY 14269
Canadian: PO. Box 609, Fort Ene, Ont L2A 5X3
THE GROOM’S REVENGE
SUSAN CROSBY
For Leslie, daughter of my heart, for the joy, love and
friendship you give so passionately. Kevin must have
caught the leprechaun.
Special thanks and acknowledgment are given to
Susan Crosby for her contribution to the
Fortune’s Children miniseries.
Books by Susan Crosby
Silhouette Desire
 
The Mating Game
#888
Almost a Honeymoon
#952
Baby Fever
#1018
Wedding Fever
#1061
Marriage on His Mind
#1108
Bride Candidate
#9 #1131
*
His Most Scandalous Secret
#1158
*
His Seductive Revenge
#1162
*
His Ultimate Temptation
#1186

The Groom’s Revenge
#1214
 
*The Lone Wolves
†Fortune’s Children: The Brides
SUSAN CROSBY
believes in the value of setting goals, but also in the magic of making wishes. Ascribing to the theory that the “harder you work, the luckier you get,” she has been fortunate enough to receive
Romantic Times Magazine
’s Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Silhouette Desire of the Year, as well as being a finalist for the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books appear regularly on the bestseller lists.
 
Susan earned a B.A. in English while raising her sons, now grown. She and her husband live in the central valley of California, the land of winegrapes, asparagus and almonds. Her checkered past includes jobs as a synchronized swimming instructor, personnel interviewer at a toy factory and trucking company manager, but her current occupation as writer is her all-time favorite.
 
Readers are welcome to write to her at P.O. Box 1836, Lodi, CA 95241.
FORTUNE’S
Children
 
Meet the Fortunes—three generations of a family with a legacy of wealth, influence and power. As they gather for a host of weddings, shocking family secrets are revealed...and passionate new romances are ignited
.
 
GRAY McGUIRE:
This powerful tycoon is waging his biggest—and most scandalous—battle yet to avenge his father’s death. But will his victory cost him the only woman he’s ever loved?
 
MOLLIE SHAW:
Mollie Shaw
Fortune?
Almost overnight, this sweet wedding planner is swept up into a glamorous world. But Mollie already has all she could want. Doesn’t she?
 
CHLOE FORTUNE:
Her wedding’s just around the corner, but this debutante sure doesn’t look or act like a happy bride-to-be. Still, if there’s any man who can win the heart of even the most reluctant bride, it’s her handsome groom—Mason Chandler.
One
A
leprechaun winked at Gray McGuire as he entered the quaint little Minneapolis flower shop—his second clue that this day would be different from any other.
Stopping mid-stride, he crouched in front of the foot-tall, molded-plastic creature that propped open the door of Every Bloomin’ Thing. Battery operated? he wondered.
“Top o’ the mornin’ to ye,” the creature shrieked.
Gray examined it more closely. Motion sensor?
“Top o’ the afternoon to you, Yarg!” a woman called from somewhere in the shop.
Scrutinizing the creature again, Gray waited for the elf to answer her. The whimsical notion caught him off guard, yet there was something about this place that lent itself to whimsy.
He looked around as he stood. Even with the door open, the shop smelled fragrant and exotic, a mix of oxygen-heavy scents. Moisture-laden air cooled his skin, warm from his having stood a long while in the late-July sun as he’d watched the shop.
No one had come or gone in the time he’d observed the tiny storefront tucked into the well-tended, older neighborhood. Hoping that meant Mollie Shaw, the shop owner, was alone, he’d finally crossed the street, anticipation churning inside him—his first clue that the day would be different.
Anxiety was foreign to him. He studied. He analyzed. He planned.
And he didn’t like the unfamiliar edginess now, so he took another minute to relax before he made his presence known, even though a sign on the counter invited him to ring the bell for service. A brass bell with a fairy creature perched on the tip of the handle.
“So, what do you think?”
He sought the source of the disembodied voice, wondering if the woman could see him even though he couldn’t see her. The shop seemed magical, after all
“I think it’ll make men look twice, don’t you?”
The woman was batty, Gray decided. No one answered her, and she certainly wasn’t talking to him.
“Of course I’m right,” she said.
He had to see this woman who talked to herself. Stepping silently around the counter he spied her attempting to shove an oak credenza along the floor. She seemed familiar, although she shouldn’t. He purposely hadn’t tracked down a photograph of her—which was out of character for him. Details were his life. He’d balked, however, at seeing her image ahead of time, this woman whose life he was about to change.
Who did she remind him of...?
Cinderella! Mollie Shaw—if indeed, this was she—looked like Cinderella. Her long hair was a rich coppery red instead of blond like the Disney movie character, but she wore a small, triangular scarf over it, keeping her hair out of her face Her pale green blouse and snug jeans sported streaks of dirt. He admired the picture she made from behind as she shoved again, her breath expelling with the effort.
“If Tony doesn’t get here soon, I’m going to pass out,” she muttered.
“Where do you want it?” Gray asked, coming up beside her.
Her eyes widened, eyes the color of a deep, dark forest, where mysteries beckoned. Where leprechauns might play—He dismissed the fanciful thought as he watched her reaction. She took a step back, not answering him, her lips parted. He couldn’t read her expression. Fear? He’d come upon her without warning, after all.
“You’re...you’re—” She stopped, seeming to catch her breath. “I can’t believe it.”
“I’m Gray McGuire.”
“I know. I saw you on CNN yesterday.”
His gaze strayed to a little smudge of dirt at the corner of her mouth and lingered until her words registered. She knew him? He shouldered her aside, deciding that her knowing could only help his cause. She would probably trust him sooner. “Just point out where you want this thing.”
She pointed.
He almost laughed. Then he muscled the credenza where she indicated.
“There’s more.” She gestured to a bookcase-type piece. “It goes on top. It’s a hutch If you’ll grab one side, I’ll take the...”
Her voice faded as he lifted the piece, then set it where it belonged. When he turned around he caught her sliding the scarf from her hair.
“Thanks,” she said, jamming the fabric into her back pocket. “I’m Mollie Shaw.”
She didn’t extend her hand, so he did. She hesitated, then finally rubbed her palm along her thigh before shaking his hand.
He knew she was twenty-two, which suddenly seemed decades younger than his thirty-three. He judged her height to be about eight inches shorter than his six foot one, her build as slight as the fairy on top of the bell. The bones of her hand were delicate, the flesh unpampered.
And she seemed a little starstruck, of all things, which could complicate his plans. He intended to propose a partnership with her, one completely unrelated to either her business or his. They would need a professional relationship.
She glanced over her shoulder. Tension radiated from her When she looked at him again, she smiled, but a smile mixed with—what? Embarrassment? She pulled him around the hutch and into the main section of the shop before she let go of his hand.
“You caught me redecorating,” she said. “I’ve been putting it off for months.”
Probably eight months, he thought. Since her mother died.
“Wednesdays are slow,” she hurried on. “I should’ve waited for my helper to get here. But once I got going, I didn’t want to stop.”
“What are you going to put in the hutch that will make men look twice?” he asked.
“Um, you heard that, did you?”
She wiped a finger along the counter without leaving a mark No dust settled in this hardworking woman’s domain.
“Men tend to spend more than women do,” she said as if sharing a secret with him. “Sometimes they want something in addition to flowers, so I thought I’d start carrying some jewelry too. Maybe some perfume. Pottery might sell well. One-stop shopping for the man who wants to appear romantic but who actually waited until the last minute.”
Or a man who’s hiding a guilty conscience,
Gray thought.
He wondered whether her redecorating was the result of coming out of mourning for her mother or financial need. In a shop this size, she must barely eke out a living, he decided, anger brewing at the unfairness. She shouldn’t have to live like this It was a wrong Gray intended to right—with her help—as well as fixing what had been wrong in his own life for twenty-five years.
“Your initial investment could be substantial, and slow tc bring returns,” he said, protective of her but not questioning why. He knew why.
Mollie eyed the empty hutch. “Too much, do you think?” she asked, looking around and sighing, something she’d beer doing a lot lately. “Things haven’t changed around here in a long, long time. I want to drum up some new business, but I can’t afford to take any losses.”
“You should discuss this with your business manager.”
“Um, I’ll do that.” She dragged her tongue along the inside of her cheek.
“You don’t have a business manager,” he said, awareness in his eyes.
She shook her head, a smile tugging at her mouth.
No one will ever believe me
, she thought. Gray McGuire, the high-tech wizard from the Silicon Valley was here. In her shop. He’d materialized from her dreams and was actually talking to her. He’d touched her.
Touched
her.
“Tax accountant?” he asked hopefully.
“I’m sort of a full-service shop owner.”
He was even more attractive in person than in any photo she’d seen. Clipped. Saved.
His blue eyes were startling against his California tan, his dark brown hair shiny and thick. She’d admired the sculpted muscles of his arms when he’d lifted the hutch top onto the credenza as if it weighed no more than a wicker basket. The turquoise polo shirt and khaki pants he wore fit his body perfectly, showing off a well-toned physique, one that didn’t look like he spent his days behind a desk.
He was
here
. In
her
shop.
Gray McGuire
.
“I apologize,” he said, moving around the shop, looking at the merchandise. “You weren’t asking my advice.”
“I always listen to advice.” Standing in front of the counter, her hands clasped, she was content to watch him, afraid if she did something wrong, he would disappear in a puff of smoke.
He must think her crazy the way she was talking to him as if she’d known him forever. But, in truth, she felt she had. Although he lived in California, his photograph had been in the
StarTribune
following a gala charity event attended by the city’s most prominent family—the Fortunes—a month ago, and he often graced the pages of
Time, Newsweek
and the like.
Her obsession had begun harmlessly enough. She had made a completely innocent comment to her new acquaintances Amanda and Chloe Fortune upon seeing his picture in the newspaper—a comment along the lines of Mollie wishing that someone like Gray McGuire would sweep her off her feet. Amanda had promptly ripped out the picture and told Mollie to sleep on it, and maybe he would be hers.
Mollie had laughed at the joke, but kept the photo. After months of mourning her mother’s death, she’d found a new focus, something to think about other than relentless grief and loneliness. And after too many nights of dreamless sleep, she started dreaming again. So Mollie had read everything she could get her hands on about Gray McGuire, fixating on him because it made her feel alive again.
It didn’t even make sense that she was fascinated by a man who was the CEO of a software design and manufacturing company, McGuire Enterprises. A man who’d designed a computer operating system at age twenty. A man who spoke to Congress on computer security issues. He’d lunched with the president yesterday!
And if he’d caught a glimpse of that newspaper picture of him she’d taped under her counter, he would have hightailed it out of there faster than she could say, “You’re the man of my dreams. Literally.” She’d even been talking to his picture when he’d arrived.
She continued to wait as he set some wind chimes moving, then listened to the tinkling sounds. He dipped a finger into the recirculating pond that kept the moisture content of the room high, the bubbles more soothing than music. He sniffed a few of the potted plants, studied the markers, printed with the plant name and care instructions, that were jammed into each pot.
She didn’t want to hurry him, but she was more than a little curious about why he was there. Well, technically she was flabbergasted. But she was really, really curious. If this were a fairy tale, he’d be pulling a glass slipper out of his pocket about now and trying it on her foot—and it would fit.
“It’s a nice shop,” he said at last. “You’re also a wedding planner.”
“How do you know that?”
He pointed to the left. “There’s a sign in your window.” “Oh.” She smiled, feeling a little sheepish. She’d thought maybe he was her soul mate, after all—that he could read her mind.
“If you call yourself a consultant, not only would you be following the current market trend, you could probably charge a higher fee.”
“Why would I want to do that? My fees are reasonable. Anyway, I’m just getting started. You know the Fortune family, right? I’ve heard them speak of you.”
He returned to her side, his expression impassive. “You’re friends with the Fortunes?”
He stood so close she could touch him if she wanted. His clean, soapy scent made her nose twitch. “My good friend Kelly married Mac Fortune, and I pulled the event together for them. Then I was invited to do Mac’s sister Chloe’s wedding to Mason Chandler in a few months. One of those fairy-tale-princess weddings, with all the trimmings.”
“The kind of wedding you’d like for yourself?”
She shrugged. “It’s fun to plan.”
“But?”
“It wouldn’t be in my budget.”
Matter-of-fact words, Gray noted. “Your parents wouldn’t help?” he asked, surprised at her candor. People didn’t usually open up so easily to him. It was the magic of this shop, he decided. And this fairy-sprite woman.
“My father’s been gone since before I was born. My mother passed away late last year.”
She crouched in front of a flowering plant, seeming to inspect it for insects or dead leaves or something. He zeroed in on the scarf she’d tucked into her pocket, then was distracted by the distinctly feminine curve of her rear.
He lifted his gaze in a flash when her words registered. Been gone? What did that mean? Did she think her father was dead? “I’m sorry.”
“Thank you. Now,” she glanced up at him. “What can I do for you, Mr. McGuire?”
“First, you can call me Gray. I’m a little surprised you know me.”
She fussed with another plant. “The Fortunes have spoken of you.”
“But you recognized my face.”
“I told you. I saw you on the news yesterday.”
“Hey, Mol! Sorry I’m late.”
BOOK: The Groom's Revenge
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