|Название||The Dangerous Jacob Wilde|
|Автор произведения||Sandra Marton|
|Серия||Mills & Boon Modern|
The big front door of the house flew open.
Jake took a quick step back, into the shelter of the trees.
There were people in the doorway. Shapes. Shadows. He couldn’t make out their faces. Music floated on the night air.
He’d made it clear he wanted to see nobody but family.
A useless request.
His sisters would have invited half the town. The other half would have invited itself. This was Wilde’s Crossing, after all.
He could do this. He would do this.
Just for tonight because the truth was, deep in his heart, he still loved this place more than any other on earth. El Sueño was part of him. It was in his DNA as much as the Celtic ice-blue of his eyes, the Apache blackness of his hair. Centuries of Wilde blood pulsed through him with each beat of his heart.
“Dammit,” he said in a soft growl.
He couldn’t deny it—but he couldn’t understand why it should matter. The past was the past. What did it have to do with the future?
Two different army shrinks had given him the same answer. The past was the basis of the present, and the present was the basis of the future.
Jake hadn’t returned for any more lie-on-the-couch-and-vomit-out-your-secrets crap. He’d never given up his secrets to start with. What was the point of having a secret if you handed it off?
Besides, the shrinks were wrong.
The pain behind his eye, his nonexistent eye, had become a drumbeat. He rubbed the bone around it with a calloused hand.
He thought again of the stories he and his brothers had grown up on.
“Never forget,” the General would say. “Everything we are, everything we have, we owe to the courage and convictions of all those brave men who came before us.”
The brothers had all grown up waiting for the chance to carry on the tradition. College first, because their mother would have wanted it. Business management for Jake, law for Caleb, finance for Travis.
But Jake had been the only one who decided to become a soldier. He’d joined the army, longed for, and snagged, training flying Blackhawks, often on covert missions.
He’d loved it.
Taking out the enemy. Saving lives when nothing and nobody else could do it.
Suddenly, with gut-wrenching speed, he stood not in the dark Texas countryside, but in a place of blood and fire. Fire everywhere …
“No,” he said sharply.
He drew a shaky breath. Straightened his long, tautly muscled frame and stood as tall as his aching head would permit.
He was not going to make that mental journey tonight.
Tonight, he would be the son his father had wanted, the man his brothers had known, the guy his sisters had adored.
The owl called out again. The bird was a hunter. A survivor.
Yeah, well, so was he.
He set off briskly over the night-damp grass, toward the house and the family that waited for him there. The moon was climbing higher. He felt its cool ivory light on his face.
The figures in the doorway grew clearer.
Jaimie and Lissa cried out his name.
Caleb and Travis shouted it.
“Jake,” Emma shrieked, and just as he reached the house, they all came racing down the porch steps and engulfed him, laughing, crying. He felt dampness on his cheeks.
His brothers’ tears. His sisters’.
Maybe even his.
A PROMISE MADE was a promise kept.
That was Addison McDowell’s credo.
It was the only reason she was at this damned party tonight. She’d promised her financial advisor and her attorney—her Texas advisor and her Texas attorney—that she’d show up, so she had.
Doing what you said you would do was The Proper Thing. And doing The Proper Thing was important. She’d stuck with that ever since she’d decided that she was an Addison, not an Adoré.
Girls who grew up in run-down trailer parks might be given that awful name, but she’d left those days far, far behind.
She had become all that the name Addison implied.
She was successful. Sophisticated. She owned a Manhattan condo. Well, she had a fat mortgage on one, anyway. She had a law degree from Columbia University. She dressed well.
Only one fly in the ointment the last few months.
Her reputation was better suited to an Adoré than an Addison, and wasn’t that one hell of a thing after all her efforts to escape that miserable trailer park and its sad heritage of silly, round-heeled women?
Addison raised her glass to her lips and took a sip of merlot.
If only Charlie had not left her that damned ranch.
If only he hadn’t died.
He’d been the best friend she’d ever had. The only friend she’d ever had. He hadn’t wanted her for her body, he’d wanted her for her intelligence, and to hell with what people thought.
Charles Hilton, the multimillion-dollar lawyer, had liked her. Respected her.
They’d begun as business associates, though she’d been only a junior member of his legal team, but as they’d gotten to know each other, Charlie had looked past the obvious: the glossy, dark hair she wore severely pulled away from her face; the silver eyes; the curvy figure she did her best to disguise within severely tailored suits.
Charlie had seen the real her, the one with intelligence and the determination to succeed. He’d become her mentor.
She hadn’t trusted his interest. Not at first. But as she’d gotten to know him, she’d realized that he loved her as the daughter he’d never had. In return, she’d loved him as the father she’d had and lost.
And when he’d grown frail and ill, she’d loved him even more because he’d needed her, and being needed was a wonderful feeling.
There had never been anything even remotely intimate between them, unless you counted rubbing his aching shoulders near the end of his life.
It was obscene even to consider.
But blogs and gossip columns didn’t care about truth, not when fiction was so much more juicy, not in Manhattan or, as it had turned out, not in Wilde’s Crossing, Texas.
She’d kept a low profile since coming to Wilde’s Crossing, but that didn’t mean a thing.
People watched her whenever she showed up in public.
She’d known tonight would be the same, no matter what the Wilde brothers said.
People would stare. Or try to be stealthy about it.
Either way, eyes would be on her.
“Wrong,” Travis Wilde had said.
Addison sipped at her wine.
The one who’d been wrong was Travis.
She was getting lots of looks. And, hell, maybe she deserved them.