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Tempest in Eden
By Sandra Brown
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- Mass Market $19.99 $25.99 CAD
- ebook $9.99 $12.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around March 1, 1996. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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WARNER BOOKS EDITION
Copyright © 1983 by Sandra Brown
All rights reserved.
Cover design by Jackie Merri Meyer
Cover photo by Herman Estevez
Hand lettering by Carl Dellacroce
This Warner Vision Edition is published by arrangement with the author.
Warner Vision is a trademark of Warner Books, Inc.
Hachette Book Group
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New York, NY 10017
Visit our website at www.HachetteBookGroup.com
A Time Warner Company
First eBook Edition: March, 1996
The "Warner Books" name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Books by Sandra Brown
Best Kept Secrets
Breath of Scandal
Love Beyond Reason
Shadows of Yesterday
The Silken Web
Slow Heat in Heaven
Tempest in Eden
A Treasure Worth Seeking
Where There's Smoke
"This is a cabin in the woods?" Shay Morrison muttered to herself as she slowed her compact car to a halt in front of a two-story dwelling. Situated atop a gentle rise, the structure had a rough timber exterior but was otherwise far from rustic.
Shay pushed open the car door and got out, regarding the acreage surrounding the house with appreciation. Virginally green with the first buds of summer, the forested landscape was breathtaking. At least her mother hadn't exaggerated about that.
Shay smiled, remembering the conversations with her mother just two days before. "But, Shay, you must come. He's dying to meet you."
"And I'm dying to meet the man who hustled you to the altar," Shay had said. She hadn't been notified of her mother's marriage until after the fact and couldn't keep from ribbing her mother for marrying so hastily after having been a widow for seven years. "What was the rush? You aren't pregnant, are you?"
She heard her mother's familiar, resigned sigh. "Shame on you, Shay. When will you learn to speak like a lady?"
"When not being one stops being so much fun." She had laughed lightly.
"I know I should have told you about the wedding, but…well, everything happened so fast. There we were sitting in John's son's house, sipping coffee, and the next minute we were reciting the vows." Her mother sighed blissfully in remembrance. "We made up our minds and acted on the decision immediately. It was so romantic."
"I'm sure it was, and I'm glad for you," Shay said sincerely.
"You will join us this weekend, won't you? John is so looking forward to meeting you."
Shay nervously twisted the telephone cord. It wasn't that she really minded her mother marrying again. Celia Morrison had been alone too long. After having been happily married to Shay's father for twenty-seven years, his death had been a hard blow. John Douglas had been described to Shay as a retired businessman who was interesting, fun, handsome, and deliriously in love with her mother. Of course, that had been her mother's assessment.
"I don't know, Mother. You're barely out of the honeymoon stage and—"
"Don't be ridiculous. We really do want you to spend the weekend with us or else we wouldn't have invited you. Please, Shay. It's very important to me to unite my new family."
A weekend in a cabin sounded a bit lame to someone with Shay's zest for life, but she supposed she could make this one concession to her only parent. It might not be full of fun, but she could get some well-earned rest. "Where and when?" she asked.
"Oh, how marvelous," Celia cried enthusiastically. She gave Shay directions to the cabin near Kent Falls in western Connecticut. Shay insisted she drive her own car rather than take the train. She didn't want to have to rely on train schedules to make a speedy escape should the boredom of the weekend induce her to leave before Sunday afternoon.
"The countryside is lovely. Wait until you see the cabin," Celia gushed.
Shay glanced at her watch and realized she would be late for a sitting if she didn't hurry. "I'll be there sometime Friday evening if I can get off work Saturday. That's customarily a busy day at the gallery."
"I'm sure you can arrange it if you explain the circumstances to Mr. Vandiveer. We'll have such fun. I can't wait for you to meet Ian."
"Ian?" Oh, please, no, Shay groaned to herself. "The son?"
"Why, of course. This is the joining of two families, remember?"
Terrific. A whole weekend in a remote cabin in the woods with an older couple acting like silly adolescents in the throes of first love and a new stepbrother who probably wouldn't be any more enthusiastic about the arrangement than she was. "I've got to go, Mom. I'm posing for a photographer this afternoon."
"No. Very commercial this time. Legs only. An ad for a lady's razor."
Celia kept it no secret that she sometimes felt uneasy about her daughter's profession. Before she could launch into an interrogation, Shay said, "I'll see you Friday. Bye, Mom."
Now Friday afternoon found Shay climbing up the wooden steps to the wide front porch of the cabin, a weekend hideaway belonging to her mother's new husband. The legs that had been photographed au naturel only a few days before were now encased in tight-fitting jeans that molded to her figure. They hugged her shapely calves and enhanced the length and form of her thighs.
The front door of the house had a note tacked to it: "Go on in. John and I buying groceries. Back soon."
Shay was surprised when she tested the doorknob and found it unlocked. Apparently there were still places in rural America where people felt at ease about leaving their houses unsecured.
The door opened onto a room that ran the width of the house. Cozy and homey, it offered several couches and chairs to curl up in, a stone fireplace, uncovered windows with a panoramic view, throw rugs on a polished oak floor, vases of fresh flowers placed strategically on tables and shelves, and countless books and records stored in floor-to-ceiling shelves. Shay was impressed as she closed the door behind her.
Making a cursory inspection of the lower floor, she saw a friendly kitchen that was thoroughly modern but quaint in design, a dining room with a long maple table and captain's chairs, and a storage pantry with a washing machine and dryer.
"John doesn't believe in roughing it," she said to herself as she returned to the living room and climbed the stairs to the second story. Directly in front of her as she stepped onto the landing was a wide window with a spectacular view of the gently rolling countryside. On either side of the stairs were doors leading to bedrooms. Another note almost exactly like the one on the front door was tacked to one of these: "Shay's room."
"Mother thinks of everything." Pushing open the door to the bedroom, she got only a flashing first glance at the brass headboard with white porcelain knobs, the apple-green quilted comforter over the white eyelet dust ruffle, the white wicker rocking chair, and the cheery lace curtains at two windows before she was brought to attention by loud singing coming from an adjoining bathroom.
The masculine voice was singing an innovative rendition of a Beach Boys song. Shay laughed out loud. The voice was singing all the parts from the lowest bass to the highest falsetto. Every once in a while he threw in a ba-da-da-da to simulate drums. He was accompanied by the pulsing rhythm of the shower's spray.
"Hello," Shay called out, wanting to alert the shower-taker that he wasn't alone and that he had left the door to her bedroom open. The song continued even as the water was shut off. Shay heard the click of the shower door being swung wide. She opened her mouth to speak again, but no words passed her lips. She stared in speechless awe as a long, muscled leg extended out of the shower stall. A foot, well-shaped with a high arch, groped for the bath mat before standing firmly on it. A lean body followed the foot. A sinewy arm and a hand that conveyed both sensitivity and strength dragged a towel from the bar on the shower door.
Shay rushed across the room, intending to shut the door before the man saw her. He was now singing into the towel as he vigorously rubbed his head with it. Momentarily, almost involuntarily, she indulged herself in a view of the naked male form in all its splendor.
Wide shoulders and chest tapered to a slender waist and narrow hips. Water ran down the magnificent torso in crystal rivulets that called attention to the texture and hue of his tanned skin. Droplets beaded on dark, curling hair that matted the deep chest and halved the flat stomach with a ribbon of black satin. The muscles of his back rippled smoothly as he moved. His legs were bunched with hard, sleek muscles. Taut buttocks tightened as he leaned forward over the basin to peer at his reflection in the mirror. He slung the towel haphazardly around his neck and ran slender fingers through his mop of wet black hair.
Then he saw her reflection in the mirror. Her expression was rapt, her lips slightly parted, her brown eyes wide with admiration.
"What—" He spun around as though he had seen a ghost and needed desperately to assure himself that it wasn't really there.
Dazzling blue eyes speared into Shay, and she wondered in some detached part of her mind if his black lashes looked spiky and thick because they were still wet or if they were like that all the time.
Incredulity, embarrassment, shock, and dismay were all stamped on the man's rugged features. His face looked like the embodiment of masculine perfection that some talented sculptor had decided to have fun with. After arranging the features perfectly, the witty artist had carved absolute disbelief onto them. The result was comical.
Shay responded befittingly. She laughed. "Hi," she said cheekily, "I'm Shay Morrison." She extended her hand, barely maintaining her composure, somehow keeping from collapsing into unrestrained hysteria at the ludicrousness of the situation.
He looked at her hand stupidly, as though he'd never seen one before. Then his blue eyes, still disbelieving, swung back to her face. He whipped the towel from around his neck. Shay had the distinct notion that he didn't know whether to cover his face, as would a guilty child, or to cover the part of him that undeniably declared his sex. He opted for the latter and wrapped the towel clumsily around his waist, holding it precariously as he said tersely, "Ian Douglas."
"John's son! My new stepbrother!" Shay chortled, finally giving in to the laughter that was building within her chest. "It's so…so nice…to meet you," she said between bursts of hilarity.
Irritation thinned his wide, full lips. "If you'll excuse me, Miss Shay." He reached for the door and began to close it.
Through the narrowing crack she called, "I'll see you later, Ian. Not as much of you, of course." The door slammed shut in her face. Turning away from it, she laughed all the harder. Imagine her meeting her new stepbrother in such a fashion.
She trooped down the stairs to retrieve her bags from the car. She had traveled light, bringing only casual clothes. Her mother had stressed that they wouldn't be going into town, but staying at the cabin all weekend. As she made her way back up the stairs, she heard dishes rattling in the kitchen. Ian Douglas must be dressed and downstairs.
She deposited her bags on the floor beside the bed, deciding to unpack later. Checking herself in the mirror, she saw that her hair could stand a brushing. Its wheat-colored strands hung to her shoulders. The natural curliness that she had cursed as a child she was now thankful for. Her hair was often an asset in her work, adding a wildness, a hint of the primitive to her "look," which artists and photographers often found intriguing. The dark chocolate color of her eyes made her even more exotic. After whisking a lip-glossing wand over her mouth, she straightened her short-sleeved red T-shirt and descended the stairs, anticipating her next encounter with the black-haired man who was her mother's stepson.
She found him glaring at a coffeemaker whose slow dripping, she gathered, was taxing his patience. When she entered the sunlit kitchen, he glanced at her over his shoulder, then turned back to stare at the coffeemaker without acknowledging her presence.
His indifference galled her. For reasons she couldn't name, she found it intolerable. She knew men often found her attractive, though it rarely mattered to her if they did or didn't. He may be her new stepbrother, but he was a living, breathing male, and it was suddenly paramount to her that he see her as a female. Determination and pique tilted her chin arrogantly.
"You've no reason to sulk. I called out a hello, you know," she began defensively.
"Obviously not loud enough."
His unaccountable modesty puzzled her. Such shyness over one's body had never been attributed to her, but then considering her work, it wouldn't be. Perhaps she went too far the other way, but this kind of modesty seemed disproportionate. Mr. Douglas must have some real hang-ups, she decided.
Dressed, he was as attractive as undressed. His speaking voice was as soothingly melodic as the vibrating tones of a stringed instrument in a master's hands. It bothered her more than she cared to admit that he seemed impervious to her as a woman, and she was determined to get a reaction out of him. "If you hadn't been screeching at the top of your lungs, you would have heard me," she said.
"I was singing in the shower. A common practice, I believe."
"I didn't open the door to the bathroom; it was already opened. That was negligence on your part. Didn't you know I was expected? By the time I reached the door, you were stepping out of the shower with that towel around your head. What was I supposed to do?"
He turned to her then, and she was struck by his height. He towered over her a good six inches, though her willowy figure was considered tall for a woman. He had dressed in casual slacks and an open-collared sport skirt. The sleeves were rolled to his elbows, revealing the corded muscles of his forearms.
"Yes, Celia told me you were coming, but she said you wouldn't be here until later this evening. And as for what you could have done to prevent both of us from being embarrassed, you could have left the room immediately instead of standing there like a voyeur at a peep show."
Shay was delighted as he lowered his dark, shaggy brows over his luminescent eyes, revealing his anger. "I wasn't embarrassed," she said simply.
"You should have been."
"Why? Are you ashamed of your body? Do you think the human form is something dirty and shameful?"
He ground his startlingly white teeth together. "No."
"Then if it's not nakedness that upset you, it must have been me. Don't you like women?"
She flashed him a gamine smile and dropped into a chair. Bracing the heels of her hands on the seat between her knees, she leaned forward inquiringly. She knew the position was provocative. It pushed her breasts, unrestrained under the T-shirt, together to form a deep cleft between them. The cotton shirt wasn't sheer, but it conformed to her shape, leaving little to the imagination. In retrospect, she might be ashamed of herself, but at the moment a demonic sense of humor prompted her to goad his temper, which she knew lay very close to the surface.
With seeming disinterest, he turned to the cupboard and took down a coffee mug. "I like some women," he stated with an emphasis on some.
Trying to squelch her own rising temper, she snapped, "Just not the honest, independent, free-thinking ones. I can well imagine the type you like—meek and submissive." She rose from the chair and stalked angrily around the kitchen. She was angry at him for his indifference, and at herself for caring about it.
"Look, I said I was sorry," she said impatiently. "I don't know why you're making a federal case out of this. I saw you naked. So? If you'd had the chance, you'd have taken a good long look at me or any other woman, and don't even try to deny it. And your mind would have flown to thoughts much more intimate than mine."
"I haven't been intimate with any woman but my wife."
"You're married?" she asked, looking around in surprise, thinking she might see a ladylike, long-suffering, insipid creature materialize. Strange. She hadn't even considered the possibility that he might have a wife. She was sure her mother hadn't mentioned one.
"I was married."
"Divorced?" she asked.
"No. My wife's dead."
Her desire to provoke him took one last gasping breath and died. Her teasing smile faded into a shattered, pale expression of deep embarrassment and remorse. Slowly she sat back down in the chair. Unseeingly she stared through the screened back door. A nondescript station wagon was parked just beyond the porch. It hadn't been visible from the front of the house where she'd parked.
"I'm sorry," she said quietly. The only noise in the room was the gurgle of steaming coffee as he poured it into a mug. "Mom didn't tell me anything about you. I didn't know."
Her head came up to meet his stunning blue eyes. "Pardon?"
"Sugar. For your coffee."
"Oh, no…no. But cream or milk, please," she said, taking the mug from his outstretched hand. He went to the refrigerator and removed a carton of half-and-half, which he set on the table within her reach. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," he said formally, pouring himself some coffee. He took a seat across the table. For long moments he said nothing, only stared at the landscape through the windows and blew gently on his coffee to cool it before taking hesitant sips. At last he said quietly, "A drunk driver ran into us broadside one night. She was killed instantly. I walked away without a scratch. It's been almost two years. Better to tell people straight out. It saves them from asking and spares me having to answer."
Again a heavy silence ensued. Shay's love of life and everything in it was offended by such a waste of a valued human being. Her heart went out to the man who had suffered a senseless loss. She felt compelled to let him know she wasn't a stranger to heartache. "I was married, but it ended in divorce," she said thoughtfully. "Now we're a statistic. One of the thousands."
"As is Mary."
"Yes." Shay drank her coffee slowly. Covertly she eyed him over the rim of her mug. In profile, his features looked more stern then they did face on. Perhaps it was the brilliance of his eyes that relieved some of the rigidity of his jaw and chin. Were those eyes what had compelled her to mention her unfortunate marriage? She never talked about the episode in her life to anyone. It was a closed subject. She had erased the memory, if not the pain, had even gone back to using her maiden name. Yet she had spoken of it to Ian Douglas. Why should a man she had just met inspire such confidence?
"Where do you live?" he asked at last, as if to fill the silent void.
"In Woodville, near Greenwich. It's small. Mostly commuters to New York live there."
"What do you do?"
His eyes were incredibly blue, and she found it hard to keep her mind on the subject. "Do?" she repeated, distracted. The doltish vagueness in her voice yanked her back into the present. "Do? Oh, I work in a gallery. We carry inexpensive works of art, decorating items, things like that."
"No, in Woodville. When I have to go to the city, I drive to Greenwich and take the train. But that's only once or twice a week."
"Once or twice a week? What takes you to New York once or twice a week?"
She was cut off by the loud blaring of an automobile horn. They turned simultaneously to see a Mercedes sedan coming to a stop beside Ian's station wagon. As Shay watched, a silver-haired man got out of the driver's side, came around to the passenger side, and offered his hand to Celia. Her mother smiled happily as she took her husband's hand. He planted a soft kiss on her mouth before ushering her toward the back door.
Ian was there to greet them, holding the screen door open. "I thought my hostess and host had abandoned me," he said, slapping his father on the back. "Hi, Dad. Celia," he said more gently, leaning down to kiss her proffered cheek.
"Sorry we're so late getting back. Celia had an extensive grocery list. I hope you're hungry." John Douglas's eyes swept the room until they lighted on Shay. "Hello. You must be Shay."
"Darling, I'm so glad you came." Her mother extricated herself from John's arms and hurried to embrace her daughter. "How are you?"
"Fine," Shay said into her mother's soft, carefully coiffed brown hair. She hugged her gently and gazed down into a face that reflected deep joy. Smiling broadly, she said, "I don't need to ask how you are. You're positively radiant."
"And all because of John," her mother said in the soft voice of an enthralled young girl. Stretching out her hand to clasp his, she pulled him forward. "John, this is my daughter Shay."
With no compunction, he took both her hands in his and let his eyes, a disturbingly familiar blue, roam freely over her face. "Shay, you're as beautiful as your mother." He kissed her on the cheek. "Forgive an aging man his impatience, but I was so eager to give my name to your mother, I wouldn't allow her the time to organize a formal wedding."
Shay smiled warmly at him. "You've made her very happy. I'd rather be a witness to that than the exchanging of vows."
"She's brought me more happiness than I ever thought to know again. You're welcome in our home anytime."
He squeezed her hands once more before releasing them and turning toward Ian. "I see that you've met my son."
- On Sale
- Mar 1, 1996
- Page Count
- 256 pages
- Grand Central Publishing