From magical first dates to romantic proposals, love keeps right on happening—in the most delightful way.
THAT CAROLINA SUMMER
Annette Long is on vacation and there is no better time to break a few rules. Especially the one about hotel employees not fraternizing with guests. Besides, handsome Josh Lord owns the place. The soft summer breeze must be making her giddy—or is it the way Josh looks at her? Whatever. Annette is ready to fall in love…
A LYON’S SHARE
Contracts. Filing. Dealing with construction clients who need everything done yesterday. Capable as she is, Joan Somers is totally fed up. But Brandt Lyon, her high-powered, good-looking boss, doesn’t want her to quit. And Joan has a feeling that he’d do anything to persuade her to stay. Anything she wants, that is…
True love is a never-ending joy. Revising these two classic romances for you was a real pleasure.
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)|
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That Loving Feeling
By JANET DAILEY
ZEBRA BOOKSCopyright © 2010 Janet Dailey
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe languid heat of the North Carolina sun lost some of its intensity when a soft breeze from the Atlantic blew in over the beach. Bending a knee, Annette Long smoothed lotion over her golden leg in long strokes. Her smoky gray gaze took in the large swimming pool area, and the guests enjoying the resort's luxurious setting.
A young couple splashed in the pool, shrieking with laughter as they tried dunking each other, but most others lazed in the lounge chairs provided by the hotel, doing nothing more strenuous than applying suntan lotion to their bodies, like Annette.
Finishing, she capped the bottle and turned to her younger sister. A faint, affectionate smile touched her mouth. As usual, Marsha had her nose in a book-and she'd chosen a conservative one-piece to sit by the pool and read. Not that Annette had expected her quiet, unassuming sister to flaunt her assets, even though she was eighteen and very pretty. Marsha just didn't do that. In fact, she resisted all of Annette's attempts to change her.
Sometimes it was difficult for Annette to believe they were sisters, considering how different they were. Annette didn't share her younger sister's shyness. She was her complete opposite, boldly confident and assertive enough to go after what she wanted. They didn't look much alike either.
Annette's shoulder-length hair was the tawny shade of light sherry, styled in soft feathered curls. Marsha, a brunette, preferred a low-maintenance, somewhat boyish cut that didn't do much for her face. Her eyes were sky blue and innocent, but Annette's were gray, intelligent and knowing, with sparks of fire in their smoky depths.
Both sisters were slim and a little above average height, but Annette tended to show off what Marsha was inclined to hide. Annette's white swimsuit was a one-piece too, but it couldn't be described as conservative. Its sides were daringly cut out and it dipped low in the back.
They were as different as night and day. Their stepmother, Kathleen, had once described them as devil and angel, Annette remembered, although it hadn't been a derogatory comment about either of them. It was simply that Marsha was cautious, while Annette tended to make things happen rather than wait for them to occur. Occasionally that tendency got her into trouble, but she had always been clever enough to get herself out of it.
"Here." Annette offered the suntan lotion to her sister. "You'd better use this before you turn into a lobster."
"Thanks." Marsha set her book aside, laying it facedown, opened to the page she was reading, to keep her place. As she began rubbing the lotion on her arms, a look of dreamy contentment swept over her face. "Isn't it beautiful here, Annette? I didn't think Dad was serious when he said we were all going to spend a month at Wrightsville Beach."
"Why not?" Annette leaned back in the lounge chair and closed her eyes to bask in the sun.
"Well, when he takes vacation time he usually likes to stay where we live, in fabulous suburban Delaware. I guess it's really not surprising when you think about how much traveling he does," Marsha said.
"True," Annette replied. "But he also knows Kathleen gets stuck at home when he's gone. It's only natural that she likes to get away for a while-especially now that Robby is older," she added, referring to their five-year-old brother.
"You're right about that. And like Dad said, with both of us in college, there aren't that many chances for us to vacation as a family."
"Well, big kiss to him for footing the bill. I intend to enjoy myself to the max," Annette declared.
At the sound of approaching footsteps, Annette looked up through her barely lifted lashes. A uniformed waiter assigned to the poolside guests stopped next to Marsha's chair, an empty tray balanced on his uplifted palm. Annette checked him out discreetly but thoroughly. In his early twenties, the waiter was blond, built, very good-looking-and fully aware of it.
"May I bring you ladies something to drink?" His flashing smile was intended to charm and Marsha blushed at his flirtatiousness.
Raising a hand to her forehead, Annette shielded her eyes from the glare of the sun. The movement immediately drew the waiter's attention to her as his admiring gaze skimmed the sleekness of her golden skin and the provocative style of her swimsuit. Marsha was invisible in a way, a fact that didn't escape Annette's notice-or surprise her. Guys like him usually ran to a type: fun-loving blondes, not quiet brunettes.
"I'll have an iced tea," Annette said with a faintly inviting smile. Maybe it wasn't fair to divert the sexy young waiter's attention from her sister, but it was partly protective. Marsha was so incredibly inexperienced when it came to men. She'd be way out of her league with this one.
"With lemon?" the waiter asked, giving her a smile that told Annette he found her very attractive.
"Please." Annette let her smile widen to show him that she got the message, even though he fundamentally left her cold. She glanced at Marsha, who wasn't doing a very good job of concealing her disappointment. "Do you want an iced tea too?"
"Yes ... please." Marsha echoed the order in a small voice.
"Okay. Two iced teas coming up. I'll be right back," the waiter promised. "If there's anything else you need, the name is Craig."
"I think the tea is all for now. Thanks, Craig," Annette murmured dryly.
He winked and moved away to fill their order.
Annette rolled forward, draping an arm over an upraised knee to watch him go. She wasn't interested in him, but she knew Marsha was. For her sister's sake more than anything else, she wanted to be sure she had the young man's measure.
"Wasn't he gorgeous, Annette?" Marsha asked wistfully.
"Yes. And don't think lover boy doesn't know it," Annette answered. Craig took a little too much pride in his looks for her liking.
"How can you sound so blasé?" her sister marveled. "I saw the way he looked at you. He did everything but drool."
There was no real envy in Marsha's tone. She'd become accustomed to men thinking her older sister was more attractive.
"As you get older, Marsha, you'll learn that guys like Craig are in love with themselves," Angela explained patiently. "They think they're irresistible."
As she watched, the waiter in question paused near another group of guests. One of the men among them caught her eye. Her pulse quickened with interest, her eyes lighting up. He was wearing black swimming trunks; the rest was all hard, sun-bronzed muscle. The man was tall, a couple of inches over six feet, wide shoulders tapering to nicely narrow hips.
As he turned slightly, Annette glimpsed his ruggedly masculine features-she liked that high-bridged nose and strongly carved jawline. The sun's rays glinted on his dark brown hair, revealing undertones of copper. Annette guessed he was somewhere in his early thirties. Her gaze strayed to his left hand, but there was no wedding ring. Which didn't mean anything, really.
"I really don't understand how you can be so analytical about men," Marsha sighed. "Haven't you ever seen anyone that turned you on?"
Two minutes earlier Annette would have answered no to that question. She'd always been too intelligent to let her imagination take over. Just about to turn twenty-one, she'd dated lots of guys, but never pretended, even to herself, that she was serious about any of the string of boyfriends. Annette had always been positive that she would instinctively know when she met the man. And the signals were going off like crazy this very second.
"Yes," she said. "I'm looking at him right now," she informed her sister with calm certainty.
"What?" Marsha blinked at her, not expecting that answer. "Who?"
"The man in the black trunks." A thread of excitement ran through her nerve ends, tying them together.
Marsha looked. "Who is he?"
"I don't know-yet." Annette qualified her reply, because she fully intended to discover everything she could about the stranger. That inquisitiveness was nothing new to her, but her boldness always made Marsha uncomfortable. She met her sister's uneasy gaze.
"You don't know anything about him." It was almost an accusation.
Annette gave Marsha a patient smile. "But you can bet I'm going to find out."
She continued her silent assessment of the man, noticing with pleasure how naturally sexy he was. In fact, he was so obviously male he seemed to have no need to prove it. He was saying something to a woman in the group. Annette couldn't hear the words, but the slight breeze carried the husky timbre of his voice to her ears. She liked the sound of it as it shivered through her, like velvet drawn across her bare skin.
A uniformed figure crossed in front of her vision, briefly distracting her gaze. Annette recognized the blond waiter returning with their drinks. He could be useful. She welcomed him with a wide smile.
"That didn't take long," she remarked.
"We take pride in keeping our guests happy." The routine reply was accompanied by a wink that left no doubt of his willingness to go beyond the call of duty. He handed Marsha her glass and walked around the lounge chair to give Annette hers.
"Thank you." She set the glass down and reached for the check to sign it and charge it to the room. "By the way, who is that man over there?" Annette asked idly. "The one in the black trunks. He looks vaguely familiar, but I can't place where I've seen him," she fibbed.
"Oh, that's Joshua Lord," Craig replied.
Annette was careful to keep her gaze on the young waiter. The more attention she paid to him, the more information she'd get out of him. "Where have I heard that name before?" she wondered aloud, frowning.
"Probably lots of places. Josh owns this resort. The Lords are really rich. Descended from one of North Carolina's oldest families," he explained. He seemed eager to impress Annette by being on a first-name basis with one of them.
"Really," she murmured and sent a glance in Joshua Lord's direction. He was listening attentively to a bikini-clad redhead. "Is that his wife? She's gorgeous."
"No, that's not his wife," Craig informed her, not noticing Annette's fleeting smile of satisfaction. "He's not married. I get the impression that he's, uh, too busy to settle down." He nodded toward the man and woman still talking. "Josh is handson when it comes to running this place. He's always here."
"I bet all he has to do is crook his finger and they come running." Annette sipped at her glass of tea and smiled at the waiter, matching his knowing grin. "Do you mean he lives at the hotel?"
"Yes, he has a private suite."
"How convenient," she murmured, giving a throaty little laugh.
"It sure is," Craig agreed, but Annette was thinking how convenient it was for her. However, she didn't doubt Josh Lord made the most of having a hotel staff at his beck and call-it had to be like having an army of servants.
One of the guests at poolside called out, summoning Craig. His mouth crooked in a regretful smile. "Excuse me. I'll see you around."
"Bye." Annette watched him walk away, then let her gaze travel to Marsha. "Didn't I tell you I'd find out all about him?"
Marsha gave her a dubious look that revealed her inner misgivings. "Not quite. I mean, you got his name, where he lives, and you know he's single, but that's not everything. Besides," she added, "it sounds like Joshua Lord can have any woman he wants. What makes you think he'll be attracted to you?"
"Because I'm going to make sure he is," Annette said, laughing softly at her sister's somewhat shocked expression. "Don't worry, Marsha," she added. "It'll be easy."
"You've said that before." Marsha wasn't convinced.
"It's always worked out the way I wanted it to, hasn't it?"
"One of these times it won't," Marsha warned. "And you're going to find yourself in big trouble."
Annette just grinned at her and looked Josh's way again. Various plans were already beginning to take shape in her mind and would need to be thought through. She needed more information before she could settle on a course of action. In the meantime, she would have to be flexible.
As she watched, Joshua Lord detached himself from the group and walked toward the pool. He had an easy, flowing stride-she had to admire the corded muscle rippling in his thighs and calves. There was a confidence in the way he moved, coupled with an aloof awareness of his surroundings. He really did look like he owned the place.
The couple that had been splashing around in the pool had climbed out to collapse in blissful exhaustion on a couple of deck chairs. There was no one else in the water when Josh Lord dived in. A second after he'd surfaced halfway across the pool, Annette was reaching for a scrunchie to pull her hair back.
"Where are you going?" Marsha asked, staring.
"For a dip," Annette replied with a mischievous gleam in her eyes. "You remember what Aunt Helen always said: Don't wait for your ship to come in-swim out to meet it."
"Oh, right. Aunt Helen was a lot of fun," Marsha said affectionately. "And do you remember her flower-petal bathing cap and ruched swimsuit with the pleated skirt?"
Annette smiled. "Yes, I do. Those were the days." She tucked the stray strands of her hair into the scrunchie. "Here I go. Want to come?"
"No, thanks." Marsha picked up the book she'd been reading. "Don't involve me in any of your schemes."
A faint smile played at the corners of Annette's mouth as she turned away and walked to the edge of the pool. Her sister's refusal was expected. Marsha wasn't athletic at all, preferring to be a spectator, not a participant. Nothing was guaranteed to drive Annette crazy quicker than sitting on the sidelines. She was a natural competitor-and the higher the stakes, the more she enjoyed the game. A hint of danger just added to the excitement.
Standing at the edge of the pool, Annette paused to study the lone swimmer now doing laps. She mentally timed the powerful stroke, but his pace was leisurely, which suited her purposes to a tee. Once he was clear of the immediate area, Annette arched and dived cleanly off the poolside, slicing into the water without a sound. She swam underneath for several yards and surfaced alongside him.
He looked her over with mild surprise. Up close, Annette could really see the male charm in his strong features-and better yet, the lazy sensuality of its chiseled lines. The attraction was potent. She guessed how wide-eyed and innocent she looked as she blinked the water from her lashes, well aware that her drenched ponytail was sending rivulets of water down into her cleavage. Casually, she flipped the ponytail back over her shoulder and raised her arms to tighten the slipping scrunchie. Then she smoothed away the water from her face.
Soaking wet, she looked good and she knew it. Her actions got his attention, although it was guarded.
"Hi." Annette spoke quickly before he could swim away. "Are you doing laps?"
"Yes." There was a faint narrowing of his eyes.
"Do you mind if I swim with you?" she asked, and offered the explanation, "It helps if I can pace myself against someone else."
"I don't mind." There was a glint of amusement in his dark eyes. He had to be used to women chasing him, maybe even sick of it. She would have to be a little more subtle.
"Great. Thanks." Annette struck out for the far end of the pool with a clean strong stroke.
All the hours she'd spent training on the college swim team were about to pay off. But not yet. Annette didn't attempt to outdistance him or even increase his previous pace. She wasn't foolish enough to believe she could outswim him even with her expertise in the water, but she could make him notice her for a while longer. First she wanted to settle into a rhythm.
For the entire length of the pool, Annette remained even with him, fully aware that he was holding back the same as she was-only he didn't know that. With each breath she glanced through the splashing water at the dark-haired swimmer opposite her and the slicing strokes of his muscular arms. Not a motion was wasted.
At the end of the first lap she did a racer's turn, not trying for speed. She was a half-length in front of him, the maneuver catching him off guard. This time Annette didn't try to take advantage of it as he quickly caught up with her. When their eyes met briefly on an accidentally synchronized breath, she saw a gleam of respect for her ability. Annette turned her face into the water and effectively hid her smile. He picked up the tempo slightly and she stayed with him.
She counted the laps, concentrating on her stroke. Past experience had taught her that she lost her kick after a mile. She waited until she had only two lengths of the pool left to go, then she made her move, putting everything she had into the turn and launching herself off the side of the pool. She was more than a length ahead of him when she surfaced and struck out for the other side. The race was on.
Before Annette made the final turn, he had caught up with her, just as she'd expected. But she had his full attention. Being challenged by a female usually did the trick-the male ego couldn't take it. She considered letting him win, but it wasn't necessary.
Excerpted from That Loving Feeling by JANET DAILEY Copyright © 2010 by Janet Dailey. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsTHAT CAROLINA SUMMER....................1
A LYON'S SHARE....................171