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Authors: Nan Ryan

Love in the Air

BOOK: Love in the Air
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Love in the Air
Nan Ryan
Copyright

Diversion Books
A Division of Diversion Publishing Corp.
443 Park Avenue South, Suite 1008
New York, NY 10016
www.DiversionBooks.com

Copyright © 1986 by Nan Ryan
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

For more information, email
[email protected]

First Diversion Books edition March 2015
ISBN: 978-1-62681-744-9

Also by Nan Ryan

Wayward Lady
C.C.’s Daughter
The Last Dance
Wanting You

For My Sister, Judy Jonas. More Precious Now Than Ever.

Table of Contents
One

Kay Clark, smiling at the tall, uniformed driver holding the door open, stepped into the back seat of the long, sleek limousine. She sighed contentedly, crossed her legs and settled back against the plush gray upholstery, grateful that the thoughtful chauffeur had left the motor running. The air-conditioned interior of the big limo was a welcome sanctuary to the tired young woman.

The neat, uniformed man had met her at the outermost gate of Stapleton International Airport and briefly explained that Sam Shults was unable to meet her, but that a car had been sent to take her to her hotel in downtown Denver. She had nodded, handed her carry-on luggage to him and let him effectively guide her through the throngs of Labor Day travelers rushing into and out of the massive airport.

The hot, dry air that whooshed up to meet them the moment they stepped out onto the sidewalk was a jolt, even though Kay had been reading about the long, record-breaking hot spell that crossed the state of Colorado. It had been drizzling rain and no more than seventy degrees when she’d arrived at LAX in Los Angeles only a couple of hours ago. Foolishly, she’d dressed for the west-coast weather instead of the sweltering Denver September.

Leaning up a bit on the soft cushion, Kay shrugged out of the long-sleeved navy, heat-attracting blazer, dropped it across her lap and raised both hands to rake them through the wilted, silvery hair clinging to her neck. The uniformed chauffeur, having loaded her luggage into the limo’s trunk, slid into the driver’s seat, turned to look at her over his shoulder and said apologetically, “I’m sorry the weather is so warm. I’m sure it must seem unbearable to you, coming from Los Angeles.”

“It is hot,” Kay admitted and smiled. “But then, Denver’s my home, so I’m not that surprised. I’ve seen it this hot before in early September.”

“I see.” He nodded into the rearview mirror, shifted into drive and maneuvered the long, sleek car out into the never-ending stream of airport traffic.

Kay was glad he made no further attempt at conversation. She wanted only to silently observe the dear, familiar surroundings of the breathtakingly beautiful city she thought of as home. As though the quiet, dignified driver could look into her thoughts, he bypassed the quicker, shorter route into downtown, heading instead out Colorado Boulevard and turning onto the winding Cherry Creek Drive, one of the loveliest streets in the city, its wide median manicured and heavy with verdant foliage and ancient, towering trees.

Smiling foolishly, Kay twisted around, taking in the sights and finally lifting her eyes to the majestic Rockies, reaching to the sky on the western horizon. Hot though it was in Denver proper, snow dusted the highest peaks. The huge, fiery Indian-summer sun was beginning to slip below those white-capped mountains.

The big car purred to a stop directly in front of the stately old Brown Palace Hotel. Kay felt her heart constrict. She’d spent the night in this famous inn only once in her life. As she walked into the imposing, multitiered lobby, she was, as she had been before, impressed by the design and magnificence of a structure built so long ago. Her eyes automatically lifted to the wraparound balcony at the fifth-floor level. Midway down the east wall, the door to room 503 pulled at her.

Kay whirled around, stepped up to the smiling desk clerk and announced in a weak voice, “I’m Ms. Kay Clark. I’m to—”

“Yes, indeed.” The short, bespectacled man beamed at her. “I remember you. You were on Q102 radio with Sullivan Ward.”

“You’re right and I—”

“Yes, yes.” He smiled knowingly. “Sam Shults has been calling to see if you’ve checked in. Welcome back to Denver and to the Brown Palace.” He snapped his fingers and a young blond bellman hurried toward them.

“Thank you, it’s good to be back,” Kay responded.

“Good to have you home. Everyone’s excited about you being back on the air with Sullivan Ward.” He handed a key to the beaming bellman. “Take the lady to 503.”

“No, I…have you another…that is…”

“Is something wrong, Miss Clark?” The desk clerk’s bushy brows were knitted together. “Mr. Shults asked that we give you one of our nicest rooms and so I—”

“Room 503 is fine. Just fine,” Kay managed. She turned and followed the tall blond youth loaded down with her gray suede luggage.

“Will there be anything else, ma’am?” The young man’s face reddened when he backed away toward the door after he’d carefully placed all of Kay’s suitcases in the dressing area.

“Nothing more.” Kay grinned up at him and handed him his tip.

“You need anything, you just ask for Ron.” He stuffed the bills into his pocket and disappeared.

Kay locked the door behind him and stood looking dumbly at the heavy mahogany, reluctant to turn around. She took a deep breath, slowly turned and finally let her eyes stray across the spacious, high-ceilinged room to the big, king-size bed. The massive bed was in exactly the same place it had been on that night five years before. Kay could vividly recall that the sheets were ice-blue on that other occasion.

Hurriedly, she crossed the room, furiously jerked at the silky, down-filled comforter and peeled it to the foot of the bed. She moaned. Soft, clean sheets of ice blue looked cool and oh-so-inviting. Upon that big, blue bed, Kay could see again a long, lean body, unclothed and masculinely beautiful, stretched out in peaceful slumber. Handsome face in repose, ebony hair disheveled. Broad, hair-matted chest rising and falling evenly. Hard abdomen and narrow hips; long, powerful legs dusted with coal-black hair.

She’d left him like that on that morning five years ago. She’d tiptoed out of the room without waking him. A sad little smile lifted the corners of Kay’s mouth. In all the times she’d thought of him since, she always pictured him gloriously naked in this blue bed. He’d looked so vulnerable, so innocent, so unashamed, lying there sleeping, uncovered.

Kay slowly slid a hand over the cool, silky blue sheets and stood up. A huge bouquet of long-stemmed Happiness roses drew her attention to the massive mahogany dresser opposite the bed. Stepping up to the tall bureau, she leaned to smell one of the velvety flowers, drawing the card from beneath a satin bow.

It said: “Sorry I couldn’t meet the plane; was tied up. Will make it up to you. The wife and I, along with Sullivan Ward, want to take you out to dinner tonight. Will call for you at 8:30 this evening. Welcome back!” It was signed “Sam Shults.”

Kay lowered the card. And she began to tremble. In exactly one hour she would see Sullivan Ward again after five years.

Sullivan Ward stepped from his shower, toweled his tall, wet body, knotted a dry towel atop his left hip and reached for a cigarette. Barefoot, he padded into the pine-paneled den and went behind the bar. From a mirrored shelf he took down a carved crystal decanter of Scotch. He poured a tiny portion into a cocktail glass, added soda, a twist of lemon and a couple of ice cubes then circled the bar.

Sullivan walked directly to the two-story window forming the entire front wall of the big room. Squinting, he looked into the dying rays of the setting sun rapidly slipping below the mountain peaks. He took a swallow of his Scotch, made a face and set the drink on a handy glass-topped table. He sighed heavily.

Damn her anyway. Damn Kay Clark. She’d ripped his guts out five years ago and now she was back. Back to live in Denver. Back to take her old job at the radio station. Back to open up old wounds that had finally healed. Uh-uh, lady, he thought. No way. Not this time.

Sullivan ran a lean brown hand through his ebony hair, padded into the bedroom and began dressing for dinner. He’d be at the restaurant to welcome his old morning-show partner back to town, just as though he was delighted she’d returned. If Sammy Shults wanted her on the air with him, well, Sam was the boss. Hadn’t he tried to tell Sam that Kay Clark wanted to return only because she couldn’t cut it in L.A. radio? No matter, the ambitious little heartbreaker was here again to do her time in the minor leagues until she could find herself a better deal.

Sullivan buttoned his white shirt and pulled on the trousers to a dark suit. Well, maybe they’d both get lucky and she’d get an offer by Christmas and get her cute rear end out of Denver. Sullivan dropped onto his bed to put on dark socks and black leather shoes. Then, too, perhaps her rear was no longer as cute as before. Maybe she’d had one sausage pizza too many—she never could resist them—and she’d grown as broad as she was tall. Maybe that long silvery hair she used to toss in his face had been chopped off short and had turned yellow.

Sullivan rose from the bed, slid a maroon silk tie beneath the stiff turned-up collar of his shirt and tied it in a perfect knot. He pulled his suit jacket from its wooden hanger and walked into the den once again. He cast a quick look at the shiny gold watch nestled in the dark hair of his wrist. It was eight o’clock.

Sullivan Ward trembled.

Kay, an air of cool confidence belying her true feelings, swept into the Turn of the Century restaurant on the fatherly arm of a jovial, affectionate Sam Shults, the general manager of radio station Q102. On Sam’s other arm, his pleasantly plump, warmhearted wife, Betty Jane, was as happy as her husband to have Kay Clark back.

The laughing, chattering trio was escorted through the main room of the busy east Denver eatery and up a half-flight of stairs into the cheerful garden court. It was a small, intimate room with a few round, white linen-draped tables and half a dozen red-leather banquettes. Green plants filled every spare inch of floor space and cascaded downward from the high ceiling, making it necessary for very tall men to occasionally bend to pass beneath the leafy canopy.

A well-groomed, willowy lady in a long black dress led the threesome to a choice banquette, its strategic location offering a panoramic view of the Front Range through spotless floor-to-ceiling glass.

“Honey, you slide in there.” Sam Shults took Kay’s elbow. “I’ll sit here by mama, and when Sullivan arrives, he’ll keep you company.”

“That’ll be fine,” Kay said pleasantly, her stomach jerking at the mere thought of the imposing, magnetic Sullivan seated in the booth close beside her.

“Kay, I swear you’re just prettier than ever.” Betty Shults was beaming across the table at her. “I’ll bet when Sullivan sees you tonight, that permanent scowl he’s worn lately will disappear.”

Sam Shults shot his wife a sidelong, silencing glance. “Now, sugar,” he gently scolded, “you shouldn’t be—”

“Samuel John Shults, don’t be telling me what I should and should not do.” Betty smiled at her husband and Sam gave a little sigh of resignation.

“Pay Betty no mind, Kay,” Sam said. “You know how she is about Sullivan. Lordy, you’d think she’d borne him. She sees the least little expression of displeasure on his face and she immediately—”

“Is Sullivan very unhappy about my coming back?”

“Why, Kay, how could you think such a thing? You know he—”

Betty Shults interrupted her stammering husband. “Kay, you know that I always speak my mind. Sullivan wasn’t too thrilled when Sam told him you’d be coming back to be his morning-show partner. In fact, he said—”

“Damn it, Betty, who runs the station, me or you?” An obviously uncomfortable Sam summoned a waiter, and looked relieved when the slim mustard-jacketed man hurried to take their drink order. “Kay, what will you have?”

“Just a glass of white wine,” Kay managed weakly. Betty Shults, after telling her husband she’d like a piña colada, again was talking, but to Kay’s relief, she’d changed the subject.

“Then last year we built a new pool, with a redwood deck and a hot tub, on that rise out behind the house. You must come out for the weekend.” Betty continued, but Kay, nodding absently now and then, found it impossible to be terribly interested in the many home improvements at the Shults estate. Sipping slowly at her wine, Kay silently begged her tensed muscles to relax. Why should Betty’s revelation regarding Sullivan’s reaction to her return be shocking? She’d hardly expected him to be overjoyed with the news. Indeed, she’d prepared herself mentally to absorb a certain amount of verbal abuse from him. Sullivan could be cold and ruthless. He could be downright nasty when something or someone displeased him.

BOOK: Love in the Air
5.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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