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This book is a work of historical fiction. In order to give a sense of the times, some names or real people or places have been included in the book. However, the events depicted in this book are imaginary, and the names of nonhistorical persons or events are the product of the author s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance of such nonhistorical persons or events to actual ones is purely coincidental.
If you purchase this book without a cover you should be aware that this book may have been stolen property and reported as unsold and destroyed to the publisher. In such case neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this stripped book.
Compilation copyright ′ 2006 by Dorothy Garlock
Hidden Dreams copyright ′ 1983 by Johanna Phillips
She Wanted Red Velvet copyright ′ 1986 by Dorothy Phillips
Excerpt from On Tall Pine Lake copyright ′ 2006 by Dorothy Garlock
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.
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First eBook Edition: August 2006
BOOKS BY DOROTHY GARLOCK
After the Parade
The Edge of Town
A Gentle Giving
High on a Hill
Homeplace Hope's Highway
The Listening Sky
Love and Cherish
More than Memory
A Place Called Rainwater
Ribbon in the Sky
River of Tomorrow
The Searching Hearts
Sins of Summer
Song of the Road
This Loving Land
Train from Marietta
Wild Sweet Wilderness
Wind of Promise
WEARING A PLAIN black dress, dark stockings, and high-heeled pumps, Margaret Anthony stood at the door and bid good-bye to each of the somber guests as they filed past.
"Thank you for coming, Senator…It was a comfort to have you here, Mr. Westmoreland…Good-bye, Mrs. Engleman…No, I won't forget to send something to the bazaar…Thank you…Dad would have been pleased you were able to come, Professor Downing."
"Good-bye, my dear," one society matron gushed. "My, my, you've been such a brave girl through all of this. I know you'll miss your papa. Do let us know if there's anything we can do. This is an awfully big house for one small girl, but then of course the servants have been here for years…" The woman speaking glanced down her long nose at the quiet figure dressed in dark green silk standing well back in the shadows of the stairway, then sniffed and made her departure.
Margaret closed the door and leaned wearily against it. Her eyes sought those of the woman by the stairs.
"It's over, Rachel." Her tone clearly implied it had been an ordeal.
"Yes, it's over," Rachel Riley quietly replied. The older woman's face was pale and her expression conveyed warmth and concern for the girl who everyone had said looked so young and fragile and tired.
Margaret, however, was neither as young as she looked, nor as fragile. Her looks belied the toughness within, a legacy from her father. There was steel in her, and Rachel had often reminded her of it. Without that inner strength—and the older woman's support—Margaret wouldn't have been able to survive the loneliness of being the only child of an industrialist who had lived with the constant fear that his daughter might be kidnapped or harmed because of his great wealth.
Margaret took the pins out of her dark hair and let it fall over her shoulders like an ebony stream, then breathed deeply and unbuttoned the collar of her dress.
"I'm glad they're gone. I'm not sure Daddy would have wanted them here, although he was a stickler for doing the respectable thing." Her gaze shifted around the marble-floored entryway. "Funerals are so ghoulish. That's what I was thinking while everyone was milling around, talking about Daddy in hushed tones. It's all so deceitful!" she continued bitterly. "Why didn't they make an effort to see him while he was living?" She slipped out of the pumps and, with one shoe dangling from each hand, she padded across the room.
"You and I were the only two people here who truly loved him, Rachel. Some of them didn't even like him, some feared him, and most were jealous of him because he had all the material things they wanted. Most of them came because it was the thing to do—and because they wanted to be seen by the others who came because it was the thing to do." She gazed at Rachel's drawn expression. "This has been especially hard for you, hasn't it?"
"Only because I knew it was difficult for you, dear. I said my good-bye to Edward weeks ago."
"Oh, how I wanted to kick that snooty Mrs. Engleman, sniffling so prettily over Daddy. She hadn't seen him for five years! I was almost tempted to giggle when she choked back a sob as she passed the casket. I know if he could have, Daddy would have sat up and said boo!"
Rachel's lips turned up at the corners slightly. She was half a head taller than Margaret, and age had lined her face, but she was still slim and graceful, Margaret noted fondly as the two women climbed the circular stairway together. Both of them looked at the closed door at the top of the stairs and then walked to the end of the hall and into a small sitting room.
Margaret picked up the house phone. "Edna, would you send us up some coffee, please?"
"Is everybody done gone, Miss Margaret?"
"All except Mr. Whittier. He's still in the study. If he rings, tell him Rachel and I are resting."
"Yes, Miss Margaret. I'm bringin' you some food, too, and don't you be arguin' about it. That bunch what was here ate up six trays of them little sandwiches you had brought in, and the cakes and coffee. I think they come to eat—"
"You'll probably get all kinds of offers now, Edna," Margaret gently interrupted. "Everyone will want Edward Anthony's cook. We'll lose you to—"
"Why, I never! You hush up, now! Ain't nobody goin' to get me out of this here house as long's there's an Anthony in it," she sputtered. "I'll be comin' up there myself. Why, I never heard the like!"
Margaret smiled at the dogged loyalty, hung up the phone, and let her shoes drop to the floor. "Edna will be up with a tray." She sank down onto a velvet-covered couch. "The buffet looked lovely, Rachel. I kept thinking how pleased Daddy would be that at least everything proceeded in a correct manner."
Rachel turned from the window. "Yes. Edward was always so emphatic about protocol."
"For the first time in my life I feel at loose ends." Margaret sighed resignedly. "I feel as if I've been unmoored from something. Can you understand that?" she studied Rachel for her reaction.
"I think so," Rachel said hesitantly. "Your father had a very strong personality."
"I won't say Daddy was domineering, but he made me do things, not because I wanted to, but because it was what he wanted. That is, I did nothing, because he wanted me to do nothing."
"He loved you very much."
"And he bound me to him with that love," Margaret said firmly, feeling for the first time since the funeral as if she would cry. "Don't think I'm ungrateful for that love, Rachel. I loved him, too. And because his heart was so bad these last few years I was obedient to his wishes and left my own life in limbo. You don't know how I longed to have a job, get an apartment, have friends my own age. Once I talked to him about it, and he brought up that kidnap attempt again. But that was ancient history."
Rachel sat down on the couch beside her. "He was obsessed with the fear that you might be taken and held for ransom."
Margaret grabbed Rachel's hand. "Great wealth isn't the blessing some people think, is it? Many times I wished Daddy was poor. I'm afraid the few men I did date had their eye on Daddy's money, or on a position higher up the social ladder—except for Justin, of course. I haven't had an opportunity to meet anyone else these last few years. At least I got to go with Justin occasionally—even if two security men did tag along each time." She grimaced and fell silent.
After a long pause, Rachel said, "I want to talk to you about Justin. I hadn't planned to do it quite yet, but this seems to be the right time." She hesitated again.
Justin Whittier, the man who was soon to be her husband, Margaret mused. He'd been a bulwark of quiet strength over the past several months—and Margaret's sole connection with the outside world. The only times her father had seemed happy to see her go out she'd been on Justin's arm. What could Rachel possibly have to say about Justin that could be causing her such obvious distress?
"What is it, Rachel? Is something wrong?"
"Do you love him, Margaret?" Rachel asked bluntly.
Margaret turned wide eyes toward the woman who had been like a mother to her for as long as she could remember. Why was Rachel asking that? Of course she loved Justin; she'd agreed to marry him. He was strong, solid, gentlemanly—almost too gentlemanly, she thought wryly. But what could be wrong with that? She managed an uncertain smile. "He's comfortable to be with, and I like him very much."
"I know he's pressing you to set the date, but I don't want you to drift into a marriage unless you're sure you love him. He's a good, reliable man, devoted to the Anthony interests, but he's almost as old as your father was when you were born. Now there's nothing wrong with loving an older man, but…" Rachel's voice trailed away.
"But what?" Margaret prodded, growing more anxious by the second.
Rachel looked at her searchingly, as if fighting some inner battle. Then, with the look of one rushing in where angels feared to tread, she blurted out, "It isn't enough just to be comfortable with him! You deserve more than that. Does he make your pulse race when he's near you? Do you feel all warm and glowing when he touches you?" Margaret's face must have betrayed her turmoil, and Rachel hurried on. "If he doesn't, you mustn't give up your youth for him—not unless you truly love him."
Margaret laughed nervously. "Well, he doesn't do any of those things yet, Rachel," she admitted honestly, "but he says he loves me. And Daddy wanted us to marry; it was all decided."
"Edward thought he'd leave Justin in charge of us, and that our lives would go on just the same as before," the older woman said ruefully.
"And you don't want them to?" Margaret watched her with concern.
"It's all right for me. I'm sixty-five years old. But you're twenty-five." Tears appeared in Rachel's soft blue eyes. "I don't want life to pass you by without your tasting the joys of being young, daring, falling in love with a man who sets your heart racing…" She looked away, as if regretting what she was about to say next. "Edward was wrong not to set you free." Then, as if to soften the words, she added, "But he was afraid for you."
"And you're not?"
"Yes, I'm afraid for you, too. But the world is full of risks. You either take them and live to the fullest, or you hide behind these stone walls and closed gates and merely exist."
"Oh, Rachel. When I was a little girl I always wished that you were my mother. I used to dream that you would marry Daddy and I'd call you Mom. I want you to know that I've thought of you as my mother all these years."
The tears broke free and rolled down Rachel's cheeks. "Thank you for saying that, darling. I've always thought of you as my daughter."
"Daddy was born years and years too late, Rachel. He believed that women were put here to be taken care of, and he amassed a fortune to take care of his."
"Yes, he did. He worked terribly hard," Rachel responded pensively.
"It's a shame you and Daddy never married," Margaret continued wistfully.
"We were…very good friends."
"I know that. I don't know how he would have managed without you. You devoted your life to us. It doesn't seem fair, somehow."
"I've had a very rich life. Edward depended on me, and I had you, dear. Even when you were away at boarding school I knew you'd be returning for vacations. And your father and I had a special kind of understanding. I've not regretted a moment of the time I've spent in his…employ. You, Edward, and the church have been my life. Now I have you and the church."
Margaret walked down the hall, her footsteps a mere whisper on the thick Persian carpet. Out of habit she looked at the closed door where her father had spent the last few months of his life, then continued down the circular stairway, through the formal living room with its silk-covered couches, Aubusson rug, Louis XV tables and chairs, silver ornaments, and priceless paintings hung at just the proper vantage points.
At the end of the room she pulled aside the heavy damask drapes and pushed open the French doors, stepping out onto the long terrace. During the past summer she'd often stood here at this hour, breathing deeply, looking out over Lake Michigan. This morning the sun was so bright she squinted as she paused at the terrace wall. It was a perfect day. Perfect for picnicking, for sailing, or for a wandering down the beach. But the very idea was ridiculous…for her.
Margaret suddenly realized she had made the transition from child to woman without really being aware of it. Her mother had died in childbirth, and she remained nothing more to Margaret than the face with large dark eyes and a small, pointed chin. There was nothing of that woman in her as far as Margaret could tell, and not much of Edward Anthony either. More than likely his hair had been black when he was a young man, and his eyes brighter, greener. But Margaret's first memories of him were of a slightly stooped man with sparse gray hair and eyes that peered out from behind thick lenses. Myopia obviously ran in the family, she thought regretfully. Still, he'd been her hero, her best friend, her companion. She knew he'd loved her with every ounce of his being. She also knew of his fear that she would somehow be taken from him. She knew hers was not a life to be pitied, and yet, she'd had her disappointments…and her hidden dreams.
Her mind flashed back to the time she'd come home from school to find her father with a house guest. That had happened occasionally when he was feeling poorly and needed to confer with one of his business associates.
Margaret had seen the man only briefly, but his image was forever burned into her memory. She had stood at the top of the stairs and watched him in the foyer below. His tall, angular frame was in sharp contrast to her father's hunched figure. His face was deeply tanned, and he had soft brown hair and clear blue eyes. He wore heavy boots, a corduroy jacket, and jeans. He stood, his hands deep in the pockets of his jeans, his head tilted attentively as he listened to what her father was saying. Then he looked up. His eyes caught and held hers while a quiver of apprehension raced through her body.
That evening she took special care dressing for dinner, but her father didn't bring their guest to the dining room. Disappointed, she deliberately went to the study when she discovered the two men would be having dinner there, and her father was forced to introduce her. Duncan Thorn was a business associate from northern Montana. His bright blue eyes had flicked over her, then away as if he were impatient with the interruption. That look made it clear he considered her worse than useless. His disregard had rankled. It rankled even more as years went by, and she realized he'd been more right than wrong.
The next day Thorn was gone, and when she asked her father about him, he shrugged and dismissed the man as he did anyone he considered unsuitable for his only child. At different times during the years Duncan Thorn's face had come to Margaret's mind, and she'd wondered about him. Now she had to push aside the uncomfortable feeling that thinking about him was somehow being disloyal to Justin.
Margaret leaned her elbows on the terrace wall and watched a freighter glide slowly behind the peninsula that jutted out into the lake. This could be a turning point in her life, she realized, remembering Rachel's words. She could marry Justin, and he'd move into the house, assuming his position as monarch, protector, decisionmaker. Or she could postpone the marriage, try her wings, as Rachel had suggested, take her chances and exert some control over her life. The seed Rachel had planted in her mind had grown to such proportions that she could scarcely think of anything else. The idea of an immediate marriage to Justin was suddenly less reassuring than it had once been. She tried to push the niggling doubts aside. But it was true, she had never experienced any of the sensations she read about in romance novels—except maybe that one time when the tall Montana woodsman had looked up at her from the foyer below.
A blue and yellow sail appeared on the lake, then a green and orange one. The small boats skimmed recklessly across the water. They were having a race. What fun, Margaret thought. Suddenly she felt young and daring, and she knew what she had to do. She would account to no one for a while, no one but herself.
Rachel—and Justin, she guiltily reminded herself—would understand.
Margaret and Rachel looked at each other as the lawyer's voice droned on and on. There were no surprises in the will. The family home was left to the two of them, Rachel being described as "dear friend and faithful companion." Margaret was left the bulk of the estate, with ample provisions made for Rachel and the family retainers. The vast conglomerate Edward Anthony had built during his lifetime would remain under the direction of the board of trustees, with the exception of the Anthony/Thorn Lumber Company. Margaret's ears pricked up, and she looked over at Justin's stalwart figure as she tried to correct her vagrant thoughts.
"Out of respect for my late partner, August Thorn, I place control of the business in the hands of his son, Duncan Thorn. I bequeath my shares in the company to my daughter, Margaret, and further state she cannot sell them without first offering them to Duncan Thorn at a reasonable market price."
It took the lawyer almost an hour to read the rest of the will. His voice droned on about royalties, commodities, real estate, and investments—all very dull stuff to Margaret, who listened with interest only to the part about the Anthony/Thorn Lumber Company. She was a business partner with Duncan Thorn, who had regarded her so contemptuously when she was a shy teenager. Would he even remember the girl whose heart had pounded so furiously when she looked down at him from the balcony?
She knew that those glancing occasionally at the heir to the Anthony millions—including Justin—would have been surprised to read her thoughts: Never again, as long as I live, will I be regarded as a useless little rich girl. I'll not be coddled and protected as if I were a child. I'm going to experience life outside these stone walls—and make that life count for something beyond keeping the Anthony fortune intact!
The scene with Justin, when she handed back the diamond, was explosive—so much so that she wondered why she'd never noticed his short temper before.
She walked into the study the morning after the will was read, placed the ring on the desk in front of him, and nervously waited for him to look up and acknowledge her presence.
"What's this, Margaret?"
"It's the engagement ring you gave me, Justin." Seeing his puzzled expression, she explained, "I need time to gather my thoughts, to find the direction my life will take now that Daddy is gone." She paused. "I realize it's not fair to keep you dangling while I try to find myself." There, she'd said it. She was surprised to hear herself speaking so calmly; she had fretted over this confrontation for hours last night.
Justin got slowly to his feet, his face turning a dull red, perspiration popping out on his high forehead. Alarmed at his obvious dismay and trying to make things easier for both of them, she blurted, "It isn't as if we've ever declared undying love for each other." She would have liked to withdraw the last words; they were rather cruel. After all, she was fond of Justin, and up until a few days ago she'd thought he'd soon be her husband.
"What do you mean? You know how much I care for you."
"I know that we like each other very much, but I also know that that's not enough of a reason for us to consider marriage right now." She was trying to be sensible, trying to spare them both more pain. "I'm sorry if it will cause you embarrassment, but I really need time to think, to do things on my own. Surely you can understand that, can't you, Justin?" she pleaded.
"You're not going to marry me?" He spoke slowly, his tone intimidating. "What nonsense is this? Put that ring back on your finger! You will marry me! It's what your father wanted!" He was almost shouting.
Stunned and horrified by his reaction, Margaret was silent for a moment as her reeling mind flashed back to other times when her father had stood behind the desk telling her that she would not leave the estate without a bodyguard, she would not go to camp, she would not be allowed to drive the car…
"It might have been what my father wanted," she finally said with quiet dignity, "but it isn't what I want. I'm not sure I love you, Justin. And right now I don't even like your behavior. You're trying to turn yourself into a replica of Edward Anthony. And when I marry, I want a husband, not a second father!"
"Why you ungrateful little—" He cut himself off, then continued more calmly: "I've handled everything for you. I've given my life to this company, and—"
"You've been paid for it," Rachel's quiet voice pronounced from the doorway. "Now that Edward isn't here for you to confer with, I think it would be better if you conducted business from the office in the city."
Margaret walked slowly to the door, smiling gratefully at Rachel as she passed. Painful as it was, she had taken the first step in controlling her own destiny. Now she had some emotional sorting out to do.
Justin came to the house several times during the next few weeks. He apologized profusely for his outburst, but for Margaret the shock of his behavior was still too fresh. He tried to court her, bringing her flowers and asking her out to dinner and the theater. Her resolve to live life firsthand growing, she accepted his apologies but refused his invitations. Evidently realizing that she'd made up her mind to postpone the marriage, he finally stopped pressing his suit. Recognizing the return of the sensitive man she had known, Margaret was grateful for his understanding.
She called him one morning and asked for a dossier on the Anthony/ Thorn Lumber Company. He seemed reluctant to send it, as if he thought her request a personal threat to his position, but the file arrived by messenger and she spent a day going over the information before returning it.
Rachel expressed surprise when Margaret announced she was making a trip to Montana to look over the operation she now partnered with Duncan Thorn.
"Why? Why do you want to go there?" Rachel's hands visibly trembled as she poured from the silver coffee service. "I thought you'd prefer to go on a skiing vacation, or take a cruise."
"I want a reason to do something. I want to be involved, Rachel. I may want to buy Mr. Thorn's shares."
"Buy a lumber company? Darling, you've got to walk before you can run! That's a whole new world up there!"
"Anywhere will be a whole new world for me," Margaret reasoned.
Rachel was quiet for a long while, but then she conceded, "Maybe you're right. At least you'll be safe up there. Duncan Thorn may give you a rough time, but he's August Thorn's son, and he'll see that no harm comes to you. Yes, I think for your maiden venture into the world, that's as good a place as any."
At the airport Margaret kissed Rachel good-bye. Justin had offered to accompany her to O'Hare, but she had declined. She'd never taken a trip alone before, never handled her own tickets or traveler's checks, and she wasn't sure she wanted Justin to see her so rattled.
The plane was boarding, and she had only a moment to hold tightly to Rachel's hand and whisper, "I love you…I'll miss you…I'll call often…Take care of yourself."
"I love you, too. Have a wonderful time, and don't forget: you look very beautiful, like a well-groomed, smart sophisticate who's able to take care of herself."
"You're sure no one's trailing me?"
"I'm sure. I told Justin if anyone did I'd see that he was fired!" Rachel smiled. "That put the fear of God into him! 'Bye, darling." Rachel hugged Margaret once more and pushed her toward the gate.
Margaret boarded the plane, outwardly composed, but inwardly she felt rather frightened and lonely. But she was also determined, she reminded herself. She watched a young girl in jeans and extremely high heels shoulder her bag and walk down the aisle. I must be at least ten years older than she, Margaret thought resentfully as she settled in for the flight, and she acts as if she hadn't a care in the world.
The airport at Kalispell, Montana, was small. A portable stairway was wheeled out to the plane, and there was but a short walk across the windswept runway. Margaret's eyes skimmed the small waiting crowd, looking for broad shoulders and brown hair. Duncan Thorn had called the house to leave a terse message: "I will comply with Miss Anthony's wish to arrive incognito and be met in Kalispell."
A man wearing khaki pants and a red mackinaw—and a battered hat atop iron-gray hair—leaned against a wall. He was holding up a scribbled sign that read: "Miss Anderson." As Margaret walked slowly toward him, he grinned, crumpled up the paper, and stuffed it into his pocket.
"I figured you was the one," he said. "I'm Tom MacMadden. I was sent to fetch you."
MARGARET'S EYES FEASTED
- On Sale
- Nov 15, 2008
- Page Count
- 416 pages
- Grand Central Publishing