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Authors: Janet Dailey

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Honor

BOOK: Honor
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Also Available by Janet Dailey

LET’S BE JOLLY
HAPPY HOLIDAYS
MAYBE THIS CHRISTMAS
SCROOGE WORE SPURS
EVE’S CHRISTMAS
SEARCHING FOR SANTA
MISTLETOE AND MOLLY
AMERICAN DREAMS
AMERICAN DESTINY
SANTA IN A STETSON
MASQUERADE
TANGLED VINES
HEIRESS
RIVALS
TO SANTA, WITH LOVE
BANNON BROTHERS: TRUST
BANNON BROTHERS: HONOR

 

 

From the Calder Series:

 

SANTA IN MONTANA
SOMETHING MORE
CALDER STORM
LONE CALDER STAR
CALDER PROMISE
SHIFTING CALDER WIND
GREEN CALDER GRASS

BANNON BROTHERS HONOR

JANET DAILEY

KENSINGTON BOOKS
www.kensingtonbooks.com

All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.

Table of Contents

Also Available by Janet Dailey
Title Page
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Copyright Page

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1

A
n immense oak shaded the Maryland mansion beneath it, casting sun-dappled light through thousands of leaves. The tree and the house were the same age, survivors from a vanished and more gracious past. The lowest branches of the grand old oak arched down to the green lawn, providing an ideal backdrop for informal photos of the Bannon wedding party.

It was a perfect fall afternoon. The landscape was touched here and there with the scarlet and gold of sumac and native creeping vines, bright dashes of color against the shimmering water in the near distance. This late in the day, the blue sky shaded to indigo where the slanting rays of the sun had begun to retreat across the vast expanse of the Chesapeake Bay. The plantation estate that had once surrounded the mansion had stretched to its shores, lined with marsh grass turning green into gold.

Linc Bannon, the best man, and his brother Deke, the groomsman, took their places and followed the photographer’s directions. Turn this way. Smile. Best foot forward.

“Excellent,” the man said, nodding to his assistant, who dashed off to fetch the next group to pose. “Thank you, gentlemen. Very natural. You two could model.”

Linc shot Deke a doubtful look. “Him? Seriously?”

His younger brother chuckled and slipped off his jacket, throwing it over his shoulder. “That’s what I was going to say about you.”

The resemblance between them was unmistakable. They both had dark eyes and dark brown hair that the breeze was ruffling, and both were tall and well-built, with a rugged physicality that the formalwear didn’t hide. But the faint scar on Linc’s face was one difference that stood out. His authoritative stance marked him as the more responsible of the two. At the moment, Deke had other things in mind.

“Here come the bridesmaids,” he said, looking at several young women in taffeta whose gowns brushed the lawn as they ran over it to the oak.

Linc glanced at them. “You can turn on the charm.”

“I may be younger than you, but you could learn something,” Deke said solemnly. “Observe the master.”

A lovely brunette reached them first and singled out Deke with a flirtatious look. The shawl she’d thrown on over otherwise bare shoulders slipped down a strategic inch or so. She adjusted it with a graceful touch of her hand. “Hi, Linc. Are we next?”

Deke smiled down at her. “I believe you are. We’re heading back to the party.”

He nodded toward the striped tents set up for the reception where more than two hundred guests were circulating, eager to enjoy the social event of the season.

 

An hour or so later the celebration was in full swing, kicked off with several toasts. To the newlyweds, Erin and RJ Bannon. To the Montgomerys, Erin’s family, reunited at last. To RJ’s two brothers and their mother Sheila. To true love.

Waiters dashed around with artfully composed plates and napkin-swathed bottles of champagne while guests chatted animatedly and laughed and flirted and caught up on old times. Then the dancing began.

Linc leaned back in his chair and watched, fiddling with the stem of his narrow glass and thinking about who he wanted in his arms right now.

Kenzie, of course. Not that she was here. He wondered where she was and what she was doing. Not that it was any of his business.

At the moment, she considered him a friend. He was working on an upgrade, but she’d been busy lately. He’d invited her to the wedding as his guest, but she’d begged off, saying something vague about a previous commitment on the day. Professional, not personal. That was something. Anyway, he had no intention of giving up. She was definitely worth waiting for.

There was no shortage of gorgeous women at the reception, but not one was in her league, in his opinion. Kenzie was his definition of perfect. Smart. And sexy, with a super-fit, petite body that looked fantastic in a plain white T-shirt and camo cargos—her version of fatigues, now that she was no longer a soldier. Although Uncle Sam wanted her back.

A female guest strolled nearby, trilling a hello to a friend a few tables away. Linc looked idly at them as the woman stopped to chat, then realized she was holding a tiny dog wearing a ruffled collar in the crook of her arm. He’d taken it for a purse at first. Her pampered pet blinked and yawned as the woman moved away.

He shook his head, amused. Not Kenzie’s kind of dog, that was for sure.

She’d been a K9 trainer for the army, on a fast track right out of basic. Kenzie wasn’t one to brag, but Linc had been able to fill in the blanks from the bare facts she’d offered. Her knack for the work had gotten her quickly promoted to a position of critical importance: training military handlers assigned to new animals and developing new skill sets for the experienced dogs to keep up with what was going on in country.

Then something had happened—she wouldn’t say what. She didn’t seem to want to reenlist. She didn’t seem to want to do anything but work. A lot.

Which was why he was solo on his brother’s wedding day.

Two weeks ago he’d stopped by the JB Kennels and seen her out in the field with a half-grown shepherd. Their jumps and leaps looked like pure joy, but he knew she was testing the pup’s reflexes and instincts. In time, under her tutelage, the young animal would learn to turn play into power. The sight of the two of them, twisting and turning in midair in mock battle, was something he would never forget.

Hell, Kenzie looked good even in thick bite sleeves and padded pants. But he let himself imagine her in something close-fitting and classy, her hair brushed to a silken shine and her head tipped back to gaze up at him as they danced to a slow number. Like the one the band was playing right now ...

“Linc. You with us?”

He snapped out of his reverie and looked up at his younger brother. “Just thinking.”

Deke took hold of a bentwood chair, spun it around with one hand, and sat on it backward, resting his arms on the curved top and stretching out his long legs.

“About what? Or should I say who?” he asked shrewdly.

“Give me a break, Deke.” Linc took a sip of champagne and set the glass aside.

His younger brother wasn’t done ribbing him. “You’ve got someone on your mind. I can see it in your eyes.”

“What are you talking about?”

“That moody, romantic, distracted look is what I’m talking about.”

“You’re imagining things, Deke.”

His brother only laughed. “Am I? Just so you know, one wedding per year is all I can handle. I’m not ready to see you walk down the aisle.”

Linc smiled slightly. “If I found the right woman, why not?”

Deke was tactful enough to quit at that point. He surveyed the crowd. “Look at all these gorgeous babes. How come you’re not dancing?”

“I’m waiting for a song I like,” Linc parried.

Deke gave up, shaking his head. “Okay. Have it your way.” He returned the inviting smile of the brunette on the other side of the dance floor. She brightened, but stayed where she was, smoothing the brilliant folds of her taffeta dress. “There’s my girl. I think she likes me.”

“Go for it. You’re not taken.”

“Neither are you.”

Linc only shrugged.

Deke turned his head and studied him for a long moment. “C’mon, bro. You can tell me. What don’t I know?”

BOOK: Honor
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