Authors: Carol Rose
Tags: #sexy, #amnesia, #baby, #interior designer, #old hotel
Copyright Carol Rose 2011
Published at Smashwords
Cover image courtesy of Mark Stout &
Cover by Joleene Naylor
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Delanie Carlyle looked across the crowded room and
fell in love with Mitchell Riese.
At least, that’s what it felt like, though she told
herself not to be silly. How often did love at first sight actually
Still, when his hot blue gaze met hers, she
registered a shiver of sensation down to her toes, as if some
long-missing piece of her heart had suddenly clicked into
It seemed natural that he looked away from her only
long enough to murmur something to the man on his left, putting his
unfinished drink on a nearby table, before he began to make his way
toward her through the glittering cocktail crowd.
With an arc of electrical current running between
them, Delanie held Mitchell’s gaze as he came steadily closer, her
breath suddenly tight in her chest. Lithe and powerful in his
Armani tux, he seemed a dark-haired knight out of her fantasies, a
tall, purposeful hero with eyes only for her.
Who knew Donovan Riese’s grandson would be such a
hunk? Even the formal portrait in his grandfather’s study hadn’t
done him justice. Mitchell’s gaze bored into hers now, a sensual
twist to his lips.
Delanie felt the tiny hairs on her arms lift as if a
breeze stirred the air in the stuffy, crowded room. Despite the
illusion, she knew she stood some distance from the French doors
opening onto the wide veranda. Beyond the room’s polished décor, in
which she took great pride, lay a twilight panorama of forested
hills and shimmering blue lake.
Nearly as blue as his eyes.
Breaking free of the last cluster of chattering
guests, he came to a halt before her, the half-smile still on his
face, a stomach-curling heat in his eyes.
She loved him then, before he spoke a single word.
It made no sense, but she knew it with a certainty that defied
“What took you so long?” she murmured, the words
coming out with a husky flavor.
“I got here as soon as I could,” he said, the smile
in his eyes deepening.
He stood looking into her face with an intensity
that left her trembling inside. Though he never overtly scanned her
body in the annoying way some men had, Delanie would have bet he
registered every detail about her. The standard little black dress,
the nearly-full glass sweating in her hand, the pulse fluttering at
“Have you been waiting long?” Mitchell asked,
reaching his left arm out to lean against the wall where she
Feeling bracketed between the white, wainscoted wall
and the powerful, tux-clad man in front of her, Delanie met his
stare. “I guess that depends on what you mean by long.”
His smile widened. “Truthfully, any length of time
in this crowd seemed long…until now.”
Glancing away from him with a sudden, unaccustomed
flash of shyness, she pretended to look around the room, most of
which was blocked by his body. “I don’t know. They seem like a
pretty friendly bunch of people.”
“Possibly,” he said, reaching out to lift her left
hand in his, “but no one else here particularly interests me.”
Jolted by the heat of his touch, the sense of latent
strength there, Delanie made no protest as he turned her hand over,
palm down, and stroked his thumb along her bare ring finger.
His gaze lifted to meet hers, satisfaction
glimmering in his face.
“If no one here interests you, why have you stayed?”
she asked, the words intentionally sultry. Flirting came as natural
to her as breathing, but both were difficult at this moment.
Everything felt different.
“I thought I was here to accommodate my elderly
grandfather who requested my presence at the re-opening of his
resort, but I realize now, I’m here to…meet you.”
Delanie caught the glimmer in his eyes, the lust
held in civil check. A hungry, sexual man on the make.
Still, there was something else in those midnight
eyes, something in his face that won its way past her easy social
banter. As if he, too, knew loneliness, knew loss and
In that fractional second, she wanted to draw him
closer, to press her mouth against his until they merged into one
complete being. Somehow she knew his soul was as incomplete as was
“And is coming all the way out to the wilds of New
Hampshire worth…meeting me?” Delanie asked with an upward sweep of
“Yes.” The answer came with uncompromising
swiftness, a decisive commitment to the moment hovering between
She looked up at him, studying the forceful face,
the sensual lips, the banked fierceness in his eyes. He would do
everything that way, completely with no hesitation, no wavering in
A thrill ran through her at the thought. No halfway
measures for him. Here was a man to make her dreams come true.
His broad-shouldered body blotting out the rest of
the room, she felt enclosed. Surrounded. He held her wrist still in
a loose clasp, his fingers warm on her pounding pulse.
Delanie drew in a breath of the scorching air
between them, raising her gaze to his again.
doing here?” he asked softly,
those eyes still devouring her.
She laughed, the sound breathless. In her years of
adult singlehood, she’d learned to play the dating game, had even
found a talent in herself for delicately pursuing men who
interested her, though she enjoyed being pursued as well. Never
before, however, had a man leveled his sights on her so completely,
never before had she felt so completely desired.
Dragging her attention back to his question, Delanie
ran the tip of her tongue over suddenly dry lips and released a
lighthearted laugh. “Like everyone else, I’m here celebrating the
re-opening of The Cedars Resort.”
“Donovan’s Folly?” Mitchell asked with the faintest
hint of mockery as he lifted her hand again in his, his thumb
strong in the center of her palm.
Her heart pounding in her throat, she struggled to
stay focused on the words between them. “Don’t you like beautiful,
old historic hotels?”
“It keeps Donovan busy,” Mitchell replied absently,
his hand drawing hers closer to his chest. Still braced on the wall
beside her, he stood before her with no self-consciousness, no hint
of uncertainty in his bearing.
So close, so hungry,…so perfectly right for her.
Someone passed behind him then, the chattering crowd
making movement difficult. Mitchell shifted closer to her, placing
her hand against his chest.
They stood in the nook between the white wall and a
potted palm, his arm still propped on the wall beside her, her hand
splayed across the whiteness of his shirt.
Delanie stared at his chest, her hand seeming small.
Beneath her fingers, she felt the starched cotton of his dress
shirt and hard, heated man. His heart pounded a heavy rhythm,
strong and steady, the pace matching her own pulse’s erotic
Glancing up, her gaze tangled again with his as he
bent nearer. She drew in a soft gasp of air as he leaned in,
blotting out everything else. Isolated here amidst a heedless,
celebratory crowd, he was going to kiss her.
She leaned forward infinitesimally, closing the gap
between them. His mouth, so firm, hovered above hers.
A man behind him, clapped a hand on Mitchell’s
shoulder, breaking the moment as he drew him around.
“Mitchell Riese! By God, I haven’t seen you in
years,” the other man said, pumping the hand he’d grasped when
Mitchell swung round.
“Arnie, good to see you.” Mitchell’s words seemed
Delanie leaned against the wall as the men greeted
each other. Dazed and overwhelmed by the emotions rioting through
her, she waited for him to turn back to her.
She’d always known it would be like this when she
finally met the right man. One look, one glance of recognition, and
all the world’s confusion fell by the wayside.
This was it. She’d met her fate in Donovan Riese’s
Now if only the old windbag pumping Mitchell’s arm
would evaporate, they could go somewhere and…start the rest of
their lives together.
“It’s been great seeing you again, Arnie,” Mitchell
said again, acutely conscious of the delectable woman beside
“Let’s get together for drinks when you get back to
town,” the older man said, as the crush of the cocktail crowd drew
“Call me,” Mitchell said, lifting a hand in final
Turning back to the redhead waiting for him by the
potted palm, he saw her lips moving and leaned closer to catch her
She drew in a breath, her mouth-watering cleavage
rising slightly. “I said, maybe we should go out on the veranda.
I’m sure it’s less crowded.”
“Great idea,” he agreed, congratulating himself for
snaring such a tempting morsel. Of all the women in the room, she
stood out, her copper hair falling smooth and straight to her
shoulders. But it was more than the color of her hair, he
acknowledged, taking her hand again in his as they negotiated their
way through the packed room.
He’d come up from the city to attend to a family
responsibility, to ascertain just how involved his grandfather was
with the designing strumpet currently moving in on the old man’s
bank account. But that didn’t mean Mitchell couldn’t squeeze in a
little personal enjoyment, as well.
Something about this woman drew him. The way she’d
stood there near the wall chatting, her green eyes sparkling, a
confident smile curling her lips. She radiated whatever it was that
made men go to battle and wage war for the price of a kiss.
Not that he’d ever done anything so stupid for a
woman. Nor did he intend to, but this particular woman heated and
intrigued him with one look. He’d seen her standing there in a
small group of people and had given himself permission to follow
the powerful urge to investigate the redheaded, long-legged
With her slender hand tucked still in his, he moved
through the crowded, over-heated room, wondering if she knew just
how seductive her smile was and how potent the welcome in her eyes.
He’d cut a decent-sized swath through the available women in his
social group, but never had a woman’s eyes met his with quite the
same expression. As if she had indeed been waiting for him a long,
Coming to the doors opening onto the veranda,
Mitchell pulled her hand into the crook of his arm and went
At the age of twenty-eight, he knew, of course, the
dangers of believing everything in a woman’s eyes, but that didn’t
mean he couldn’t enjoy her, just the same.
Cocktail party-goers stood in clusters on the
veranda as well, but the shadowed paleness of twilight lent an
atmosphere of intimacy here.
Mitchell led his prize to the white, painted railing
above the immaculate green lawn that swept down to the lake. Now
that they were out of the crowd, a breeze brushed in with the
freshness of the coming night. In the dim light beyond the veranda,
the scattering of white lawn chairs showed ghostly, their red and
white awnings fluttering.
His companion drew in a deep breath, looking out
over the panorama that had made The Cedars a fashionable resort
more than a hundred years ago.
“It’s so beautiful here,” she said softly, “so
“Yes,” he said, moving closer to where she leaned
against the railing.
The light spilling out of the crowded salon barely
reached them and the feeble fixtures overhead cast only the vaguest
illumination. He stood with his back to the people scattered along
the veranda, cutting off their view of the woman before him.
The two of them were as alone as possible without
actually leaving the party.
With her face turned toward the lake, the woman
displayed a profile as delicate and ethereal as the cameo his
grandmother had owned. Only nothing about the rest of his companion
reminded him of his grandmother. Her black dress was made of some
kind of knit fabric that molded enticingly to her curvaceous body.
Brief and effective, it’s wide scooped neck and short sleeves left
a creamy display of skin.
“Are you chilled?” he asked, abruptly drawing her
attention from the view.