Authors: Diana Palmer
Diego Laremos had never forgotten the last night he’d spent with Melissa Sterling five years before. She’d fled their home after a bitter dispute, hoping to escape their unhappy marriage. He hadn’t forgiven her for leaving, though he’d hated himself even more for driving her away. Seeing Melissa again had renewed his hope for a possible future together…
Melissa had felt the same way, but she’d lied to Diego in the past. Now she had to prove to him that she was indeed his love—his ENAMORADA—and that the truth could set them both free…to love again.
New York Times
TORONTO NEW YORK LONDON
AMSTERDAM PARIS SYDNEY HAMBURG
STOCKHOLM ATHENS TOKYO MILAN MADRID
PRAGUE WARSAW BUDAPEST AUCKLAND
To my Alice with love
I really can’t express how flattered I am and also how grateful I am to Harlequin Books for releasing this collection of my published works. It came as a great surprise. I never think of myself as writing books that are collectible. In fact, there are days when I forget that writing is work at all. What I do for a living is so much fun that it never seems like a job. And since I reside in a small community, and my daily life is confined to such mundane things as feeding the wild birds and looking after my herb patch in the backyard, I feel rather unconnected from what many would think of as a glamorous profession.
But when I read my email, or when I get letters from readers, or when I go on signing trips to bookstores to meet all of you, I feel truly blessed. Over the past thirty years, I have made lasting friendships with many of you. And quite frankly, most of you are like part of my family. You can’t imagine how much you enrich my life. Thank you so much.
I also need to extend thanks to my family (my husband, James, son, Blayne, daughter-in-law, Christina, and granddaughter, Selena Marie), to my best friend, Ann, to my readers, booksellers and the wonderful people at Harlequin Books—from my editor of many years, Tara, to all the other fine and talented people who make up our publishing house. Thanks to all of you for making this job and my private life so worth living.
Thank you for this tribute, Harlequin, and for putting up with me for thirty long years! Love to all of you.
New York Times
The Essential Collection
Long, Tall Texans…and More!
AVAILABLE FEBRUARY 2011
AVAILABLE MARCH 2011
That Burke Man
Circle of Gold
AVAILABLE APRIL 2011
The Princess Bride
A Man of Means
Rage of Passion
AVAILABLE MAY 2011
Love with a Long, Tall Texan
(containing “Guy,” “Luke” and “Christopher”)
Heart of Ice
Fit for a King
The Rawhide Man
AVAILABLE JUNE 2011
A Long, Tall Texan Summer
(containing “Tom,” “Drew” and “Jobe”)
Friends and Lovers
The Wedding in White
AVAILABLE JULY 2011
To Love and Cherish
Long, Tall and Tempted
(containing “Redbird,” “Paper Husband” and “Christmas Cowboy”)
AVAILABLE AUGUST 2011
Soldier of Fortune
The Tender Stranger
After the Music
The Patient Nurse
AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 2011
The Case of the Mesmerizing Boss
The Case of the Confirmed Bachelor
The Case of the Missing Secretary
Eye of the Tiger
Table of Contents
he gentle face on the starched white pillow was pale and very still. The man looking down at it scowled with unfamiliar concern. For so many years, his emotions had been caged. Tender feelings were a luxury no mercenary could afford, least of all a man with the reputation of Diego Laremos.
But this woman was no stranger, and the emotions he felt when he looked at her were still confused. It had been five years since he’d seen her, yet she seemed not to have aged a day. She would be twenty-five now, he thought absently. He was forty.
He hadn’t expected her to be unconscious. When the hospital had contacted him, he almost hadn’t come. Melissa Sterling had betrayed him years before. He wasn’t anxious to renew their painful acquaintance, but out of curiosity and a sense of duty, he’d made the trip to southern Arizona. Now he was here, and it was not a subterfuge, a trap, as it had been before. She was injured and helpless; she was alive, though he’d given her up for dead all those long years ago. The cold emptiness inside him was giving way to memories, and that he couldn’t allow.
He turned, tall and dark and immaculate in his charcoal-gray suit, to stare out the window at the well-kept grounds beyond the second-floor room Melissa Sterling occupied. He had a mustache now that he hadn’t sported during the turbulent days she’d shared with him. He was a little more muscular, older. But age had only emphasized his elegant good looks, made him more mature. His dark eyes slid to the bed, to the slender body of this woman, this stranger, who had trapped him into marriage and then deserted him.
Melissa was tall for a woman, although he towered above her. She had long, wavy blond hair that had once curled below her waist. That had been cut, so that now it curved around her wan oval face. Her eyes were blue-shadowed, closed, her perfect mouth almost as white as her face, her straight nose barely wrinkling now and again as it protested the air tubes taped to it. She seemed surrounded by electronic equipment, by wires that led to various monitors.
An accident, the attending physician had said over a worse-than-poor telephone conversation the day before. An airplane crash that, by some miracle, she and the pilot and several other passengers on the commuter flight from Phoenix had survived. The plane had gone down in the desert outside Tucson, and she’d been brought here to the general hospital, unconscious. The emergency room staff had found a worn, carefully folded paper in her wallet that contained the only evidence of her marital status. A marriage license, written in Spanish; the fading ink stated that she was the
of one Diego Alejandro Rodriguez Ruiz Laremos of Dos Rios, Guatemala. Was Diego her husband, the physician had persisted, and if so, would he authorize emergency surgery to save her life?
He vaguely recalled asking if she had no other relatives, but the doctor had told him that her pitifully few belongings gave no evidence of any. So Diego had left his Guatemalan farm in the hands of his hired militia and flown himself all the way from Guatemala City to Tucson.
He’d had no sleep in the past twenty-four hours. He’d been smoking himself to death and reliving a tormenting past.
The woman in the bed stirred suddenly, moaning. He turned just as her eyes opened and then closed quickly again. They were gray. Big and soft, a delicate contrast to her blond fairness; her gray eyes were the only visible evidence of Melissa’s Guatemalan mother, whose betrayal had brought anguish and dishonor to the Laremos family.
His black eyes ran slowly over her pale, still features and he wondered as he watched how he and Melissa had ever come to this….
t was a misty rain, but Melissa Sterling didn’t mind. Getting soaked was a small price to pay for a few precious minutes with Diego Laremos.
Diego’s family had owned the
the giant Guatemalan farm that bordered her father’s land, for four generations. And despite the fact that Melissa’s late mother had been the cause of a bitter feud between the Laremos family and the Sterlings, that hadn’t stopped Melissa from worshiping the son and heir to the Laremos name. Diego seemed not to mind her youthful adoration, or if he did, he was kind enough not to mock her for it.
There had been a storm the night before, and Melissa had ridden down to Mama Chavez’s small house to make sure the old woman was all right, only to find that Diego, too, had been worried about his old nurse and had come to check on her. Melissa liked to visit her and listen to tales of Diego’s youth and hear secret legends about the Maya.