Stanton Rourke lives life on the edge. The steely mercenary is dangerous in every way…especially to Clarisse Carrington’s heart. She and Rourke were playmates as children, but she’s not the innocent girl he once knew. When tragedy robbed Clarisse of her entire family, her life was changed forever. Besides, she’s a grown woman now, and there are secrets that hold her back from succumbing to her pursuer. As she struggles to keep her distance, sparks as hot as a Texas summer fly between them. But danger is following Clarisse, leaving her no choice but to rely on Rourke, even as the old wounds lying dormant between them flare up again…
“Palmer…is the queen of desperado quests for justice and true love.” -Publishers Weekly
“The popular Palmer has penned another winning novel, a perfect blend of romance and suspense.”–Booklist on Lawman
“Diana Palmer is a mesmerizing storyteller who captures the essence of what a romance should be.”–Affaire de Coeur
He closed his eyes and drew in a long breath. Tat would never forgive him. He didn’t even know how to approach her. He imagined Tat’s mouth under his, her soft body pressed to his hardness, her hands in his thick hair as he loved her on crisp, white sheets. He groaned aloud at the arousal the images produced.
And just as quickly as they flashed through his mind, he knew how impossible they were. He’d spent eight years pushing her away, making her hate him. He wasn’t going to be able to walk into her home and pick her up in his arms. She’d never let him close enough. She backed away now if he even approached her.
He thought of her with other men, with the scores of them he’d accused her of sleeping with. His fault. It was his fault. Tat would never have let another man touch her if she’d ever really belonged to Rourke; he knew that instinctively. But he’d pushed her into affairs. Her name had been linked with several millionaires, even a congressman. He’d seen photos of her in the media, seen her laughing up into other men’s faces, her body exquisite in couture gowns. He’d pretended that she was only playacting. But she wasn’t. She was twenty-five years old. No woman remained a virgin at that age. Certainly not Tat, whom he’d baited and tormented and rejected and humiliated.
But he had to get near her. He had to know if there was any slight chance that she might not hate him, that he could coax her back into his life. She’d never let him in the door in Maryland, where her home in the US was located. She had security cameras—he’d insisted on them—placed all around the house she owned there, the house that had belonged to her father.
Tat’s father had worked for the US Embassy. His people had been wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice. He’d married Maria Cortes of Manaus, a woman who had Dutch and highborn Spanish heritage who was also an heiress. It had been a marriage of true love. They had houses in Africa and Manaus and Maryland. Tat had inherited the lot, and their combined fortunes. Tat had loved her mother. It had devastated her when Maria died of a fever she caught nursing a friend.
He knew how Tat revered her mother. How could he tell her what the woman had done? It would shatter her illusions. But he would have to tell her something, to try and explain his behavior.
How to get near her, near enough to make her listen, that was the problem. His eye fell on an invitation on top of the stack of mail one of the workers had left on the bureau for him to go through. He frowned.
He picked it up and opened it. Inside was a formal invitation to a gala awards ceremony in Barrera. It was a personal invitation from General Machado himself. Now that his country was secure once more, all the loose ends tied up, it was time to reward the people who had helped him wrest control away from the usurper, Sapara. Machado hoped that Rourke could come, because he was one of several people who would be so honored. He went down the list of names on the engraved invitation listing the honorees. Just above his name was that of Clarisse Carrington.
His heart jumped. Machado had promised that she would be recognized for her bravery in leading two captured college professors to safety and giving the insurgents intel that helped them recapture Barrera’s capital city and apprehend Sapara.
Tat was going to be in Barrera, in Medina, the capital city. She would certainly go to the awards ceremony. It was a neutral place, where he might have the opportunity to mend fences. Certainly he was going to go. The date was a week away.
Diana Palmer has been writing with Harlequin since 1980 and has published over 180 titles, with over 61 million books sold! When not writing, Susan’s hobbies are gardening, knitting, crocheting, astronomy, archaeology and animals. She also has dogs, cats, birds and lizards.
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