The Wade Dynasty
Table of Contents
‘IF I assure you I no longer imagine myself in love with you will you stop running away and come home where you belong?'
Brenna froze on the rock where she sat, even the seagulls overhead seeming to stop their cries, as if they sensed the sudden tension of the young woman who, until a few seconds ago, had been sketching the beauty of their flight over the tranquillity of the grey-green of the Irish sea in midsummer.
Nathan. She knew that voice in a dozen or more different emotions, the rich timbre of his Canadian accent now faintly mocking. She had known him as the brother, the adversary, the arrogant tormentor, and finally the lover. And she knew from the tone of his voice now that the second most suited his mood at the moment.
Why had he come for her now, why had he left it over a year since she had walked—no, run away from him? Because she had run that Easter sixteen months ago, had scurried back to England as if the very devil were at her heels. The first time she had looked at Nathan Wade she had thought him in league with the devil, his faded denims snug on his leanly muscled hips, the black, dusty shirt taut across the power of his chest, piercing grey eyes delving into her soul as he looked at her beneath the black, dusty and sweat-stained stetson that was tilted low across his forehead.
Until that moment Brenna had only seen cowboys on television or in films, with the good guys wearing the white hats and the bad guys wearing the black ones; she hadn't needed Nathan's black hat to tell her he was a bad guy, had known just from looking at him that if it had been the last century Nathan Wade would have been a cold-hearted gun-slinger on the wrong side of the law. Instead he now masqueraded as a Canadian rancher, his ancestors having moved from the wide open spaces of America to its even wider and less crowded neighbour, two generations ago. They now owned land and wielded considerable power in their adopted county!
And Nathan had sought to own her, to help forge the dynasty that his brother and her sister were even now in the process of continuing, and their first baby was due in two months’ time.
It was strange the surprises Fate held in store for the unsuspecting. Until she was twelve years of age Brenna had lived quite happily in England with her older sister and their divorced mother, barely noticing the absence of the irresponsible man who was her father, the father who accepted no ties in his life, not even that of remaining faithful for more than a couple of months at a time to his wife and the two daughters she had borne him. Their divorce had barely registered with either eleven-year-old Brenna or thirteen-year-old Lesli; they had not seen any less of their father then because he had rarely been at home anyway. But the advent of Patrick Wade into all their lives almost a year later hadn't been as smooth. The rich Canadian rancher had demanded that Anna and her two daughters go back to Canada with him to the ranch he owned several miles from Calgary.
For the first time that anyone could remember, Andrew Jordan made a conscious decision; he didn't want his two daughters moving anywhere!
If he had known Patrick Wade a little better he would have realised that the harshly handsome man had never been denied anything in his life, that what he wanted he always got, one way or another. He had got Anna and her two daughters.
And Brenna and Lesli had acquired two of the most arrogantly self-assured stepbrothers that could ever have been wished on anyone. As they were already grown men of twenty-six and twenty-three, respectively, perhaps it was to be expected that Nathan and Grant had little patience for the two young English girls who had become part of their family.
How Brenna wished it had always remained that way!
But Grant and Leslie had suddenly fallen in love four years ago, and in the face of Brenna's distrust of all the Wade men it had seemed like a betrayal. And when Nathan had come after her sixteen months ago, she had run as far and as fast as she could go. It looked as if her running was over, at least as far as Nathan was concerned. If she could believe what Nathan was saying, he had changed his mind about marrying her. She had always known he wasn't motivated by love.
She took one last wistful look at the calmness of the water off the north-west coast of England, knowing Nathan still stood behind and above her. Brenna had climbed down the cliff to sit on a jutting rock as she did her sketching, enjoying the wildness of this rugged beauty, alone in this secluded cove, but not feeling in the least lonely. She loved everything about England, and even after six years in Canada had felt immediately at home as soon as she stepped off the plane in London on her way to college four years ago. She had no intention of returning to Canada, it wasn't where she ‘belonged'.
She drew up her knees with her sketch-pad on, regretting that she wasn't going to be able to finish her drawing, unzipping the leather pouch that lay on the flatness of the rock beside her and putting her equipment carefully inside. Just because she was going to have to turn and face Nathan again after sixteen months, there was no reason not to take her usual care with putting away her work!
The harsh command of his voice wasn't lazily mocking this time, the impatience that was never far from the surface of his decisive nature ripping coldly into her.
She knew she had no choice now but to turn and face him, that if she didn't, he was going to come down here after her. She prepared herself for the confrontation as best she could, getting slowly to her feet, small and slender in the tight denims and green T-shirt, her hair a wild tumble of ebony down her spine, eyes the colour of darkest emeralds seeking him out. No amount of preparation could have prepared her for the lean figure that stood on top of the cliff, the midday sun behind him making him appear only as a dark silhouette. It was enough.
Brenna drew in a shuddering breath, blinking coal-black lashes that fanned out thickly from the almond shape of her eyes as they fleetingly touched her cheek. She could see Nathan a little better now her eyes had become accustomed to the bright sunshine. He stood in the shadow, but she knew his harshly handsome beauty as if by heart, hair as black as her own, black brows jutting out over icy grey eyes, a long straight nose, high cheekbones that looked as if they could have belonged to some unclaimed Indian ancestry, a sculptured mouth that rarely laughed, his smiles cynical at best, and a square chin that laid claim to his arrogance. He was wearing a black, Western-style suit, although the jacket was dangling over his shoulder held by a single finger in the heat of this August day, the black and white checked shirt stretching tautly across his chest as he did so, the black boots slightly dusty from his walk from the road to the cove. Brenna knew that at a couple of inches over six