The Fall of Maggie Brown

BOOK: The Fall of Maggie Brown
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She was getting to him…

It was becoming harder and harder to distract Maggie Brown from her goal. Or maybe that was because Ben was finding her equally distracting. He could smell the soap on her skin, the shampoo in her hair as it blew dry in the breeze. He could smell temptation and sin on the air. But he couldn’t smell redemption.

There was only one way to shut Maggie up, make her forget about her sister, her questions, her hostility. One way to turn her from a terrier with a bone to a soft, melting mass of femininity. He could take her to bed. And Ben didn’t doubt for one minute she’d let him do it, against her better judgment.

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ANNE STUART

The Fall of Maggie Brown

Dear Reader,

When the editors at Harlequin asked me to write a book exclusively for the Internet subscribers, I jumped at the chance. I’m a complete Internet junkie, and would rather spend all my shopping and research time chained to my computer, so I thought writing a book available only through the Internet would be perfect for me.

And I loved the challenge—it was a length I’d never written, and the time was tight, so I had no choice but to dive right into it, immersing myself completely. Since that’s the way I prefer to write, it was a match made in heaven.

I had a marvelous time with uptight Maggie and swashbuckling Ben. I hope you do, too.

Cheers,

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Maggie Brown

A
repressed banker from Philadelphia.

Ben Frazer
—A soldier-of-fortune type living in San Pablo.

Stella Brown
—Maggie’s feckless, irresponsible twin sister.

Delia Brown
—Their feckless, irresponsible mother.

Ramon Morales de Lorca y Antonio, The Professor
—Leader of the opposition party.

Generalissimo Cabral
—Dictator of San Pablo.

Elena
—Owner of a local hotel, and Ben’s former lover.

Salazar
—A San Pablo crime boss.

El Gallito Loco
—Cabral’s assassin and Ben’s nemesis.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER ONE

M
AGGIE
B
ROWN WALKED
into the seedy, run-down bar with the no-nonsense stride of someone who was at ease with the world. It was all an act, of course. She wouldn’t have been comfortable walking alone into a bar at the Waldorf Astoria, much less in a low-rent dive in Las Cruces, San Pablo, a tiny country somewhere between Spain and France, just to the right of Andorra in more ways than one. Had it been up to Maggie, she would have been safe at home in Philadelphia, spending her days in peaceful monotony, dividing her time between her job at the bank and her tasteful apartment.

She should have known her life wouldn’t stay peaceful for long, not when she considered the family she’d been born into.

They’d always been evenly matched. Maggie and her father, Frank, the sane, levelheaded sensible ones. And Maggie’s twin sister, Stella, and their flighty mother, Delia, both of them without enough common sense to come in out of the rain. Throughout her twenty-eight years Maggie had helped her father look out for the rest of their impractical family, and since her father’s death two years ago she’d done what she could on her own.

Which brought her to Las Cruces, San Pablo, on a damp autumn day, searching for her errant twin and hoping to God her mother would hold on long enough for Maggie to bring the stray home.

Delia was dying. Delia often said she was dying, being possessed of a strong imagination, but this time Maggie was ready to believe it. Her mother had taken to her bed some three months ago, growing paler and weaker and murmuring mysteriously of doctors’ appointments, until she’d announced she wanted to see Stella just once before she died.

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