Texas born and bred, Hunter McCabe is a successful architect who is smitten the moment he meets Erica. He's determined to pursue herdespite her efforts to keep him at a distance.
But someone is watching the dance of attraction between Erica and Hunter with growing alarm. Someone who understands the dangerous connection between Hunter's powerful, politically connected family and the accident that shattered Erica's life. Someone who understands that soon secrets will be revealed and lies will be exposed
And that murder is the only guarantee of silence.
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About the Author
Karen Young is the author of thirty-four novels with more than ten million copies in print. Her many awards include the RITA from Romance Writers of America and both the Career Achievement and Reviewer's Choice awards from Romantic Times magazine. She is a frequent public speaker and a teacher of the craft of writing. Currently, she resides in Houston, Texas.
Read an Excerpt
By Karen Young
MIRACopyright © 2005 Karen Young
All right reserved.
The telephone shrilled the fourth ring, but Erica Stewart resisted coming fully awake. Let it go to voice mail, she thought, while a part of her still struggled to finish the dream. The phone rang again and Willie, her cat, nudged her hand with his head. Purring loudly, he climbed on her chest and pawed at the blanket. With a sigh, she raised herself on one elbow and looked at the caller ID, then groggily reached over and picked it up. "What?" She knew she sounded grumpy, but she wasn't at her best before coffee and all her friends knew that.
"Good morning, sunshine."
"This had better be good, Jason," she grumbled, falling back against her pillow. "It's Sunday. You know it's the only day I can sleep in."
"You'll forgive me when you hear this," her business partner and quintessential morning person said. "Have you seen the Sunday Chronicle?"
"You woke me from a sound sleep, Jason. I'm still in bed. And thanks to you, Willie's now meowing to be fed. So, no, I haven't seen the newspaper."
"Wait'll you see the article in Zest, sugar. It's fantastic.
It's gonna mean success with a big S for us. Get dressed," he told her. "I'm coming over."
"Can't you just — " She stopped, realizing the line was dead. Grumbling, she threw off the covers and glared at Willie, who was wailing now. "I'm up, I'm up."
When Jason knocked on her door fifteen minutes later, she'd barely had time to brush her teeth and throw on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. He had a bakery box in one hand, a newspaper under his arm and a cardboard tray holding two cups of Starbucks coffee in the other. "Here, straight house blend, no frills, just the way you like it," Jason said, thrusting the coffee at her. Then, waggling his eyebrows suggestively, he offered the box. "Kolaches. Mixed varieties."
He knew she had a weakness for the delicious pastry stuffed with everything she shouldn't eat. Why was it some people preferred to skip breakfast altogether when for her it was the best meal of the day? And irresistible. With a sheepish groan, she grabbed the box, turned and led the way into her kitchen.
The table in her breakfast nook was littered with fabric scraps, scissors and parchment-paper patterns. Sitting in the midst of that was her laptop. She remembered looking at the clock around 2:30 a.m. and thinking she should shut down and go to bed. She did, finally, about an hour later, knowing it was Sunday and she would be able to sleep in.
"Whoa, somebody's been busy," Jason said, looking at the mess on the table.
"Until the wee hours," Erica said, setting the coffee and kolaches on a countertop nearby. She collected the material scraps and dropped them into a box, tossed the paper patterns into a tall trash can she'd placed beside her chair and shoved the computer to the opposite side of the table.
"But it was worth it. I finished the design for Jill McNeal's evening jacket. I'm really happy with it, Jason. I think she'll be pleased."
"Have your coffee first," he told her. "And sit down. We'll look at the design and pig out after you look at this." With a flourish, he snapped the fold from the newspaper and spread it out on the table.
Erica removed the plastic lid from her coffee cup and sat. Then, tucking a strand of dark hair behind one ear, she turned her attention to the paper. Her gray eyes went wide. The first thing she noticed was her own photo on the cover of Zest, the Houston Chronicle"s Sunday magazine. Small but prominently displayed at the top, it was a teaser for a feature article inside.
"Wait'll you see the article," Jason said. "It'll blow your mind. We couldn't pay enough for advertising like this, Erica." Not waiting for her to find it, he leaned over and flipped the pages until he located it. He straightened and stood back to gauge her reaction. "Have a look at that, partner."
He was right about one thing. They could never afford to pay for advertising at this level. She was pictured arranging the display in the front window of the shop in the Village. She remembered the day she'd worked on the display. She'd wanted the fabric she'd used in the jacket to coordinate with the quilt, another of her original designs. She'd draped the quilt over an antique chair, which she'd borrowed from a shop located a couple of doors down. On the floor beside the chair was a tall urn containing a few gnarled and leafless limbs she'd collected on the side of a country road. River stones had been strewn over the floor to look as if they'd been cast out carelessly, adding a last artful touch to the oddly eclectic grouping. She'd had some doubt about the photographer's request to shoot her at work in the window, but the result was more than interesting.
Jason grinned with delight. "Is it great, or what?"
"It's nice." The article wasn't about Erica alone. It was a piece showcasing the unique personality of the Village, a favored location for merchants, upscale and otherwise, some selling unique merchandise while others offered chain-store quality. When Erica and Jason decided to open a retail outlet for her jacket and quilt designs, they'd chosen the Village as much for its personality as for its location near upscale River Oaks.
"Nice?" Jason propped his hands on his hips. "That's it, just nice?"
"It's really terrific."
"You know what this means, Erica." He sat down on the cushioned seat of the bay window, but he was so energized that he was instantly up and pacing again. "It's going to make us a household word. You've already made a name for yourself in Houston and this article is simply icing on the cake. Circulation for the Chronicle takes us throughout the whole state of Texas and beyond."
"First Texas and then the world?" she teased, smiling while savoring the taste of the coffee. Jason's expectations were anything but modest. He really believed Erica Stewart was destined to become a label as well known as Kate Spade or Cynthia Rowley. He was so certain that sometimes Erica almost believed it herself. This morning, however, her expectations were firmly grounded. She needed a couple of seamstresses to work full-time on the jackets and quilts, but so far she'd found only one who met her exacting standards. Her creations were pricey, unavoidably so, as they were labor intensive. She wanted anyone who bought a jacket or a quilt to get full value for their money.
"I'm not the one in denial," Jason said, biting into a kolache. "You are." Then, chewing on the pastry, he pointed to the article. "Do you think they do these feature articles for just anybody? Hell, no. Even if you can't believe you're destined to be a significant player, sugar, other folks do." He tapped the article with a forefinger. "Now all we have to do is make the most of what's been handed to us on a silver platter."
"Uh-huh." Erica rose and rummaged in a wire basket where she'd stashed recent mail. "If you're excited over that article, you'll really love this." When she found what she was looking for, she handed it to Jason, who gave it a quick once-over. Then, doing a double take, he reread it.
"This isn't a joke," he said, looking at her. "You wouldn't do that to me, would you?"
"No, Jason. Where would I get letterhead with a Texas Today logo? It's real."
"You've been named one of Twenty Women to Watch in Texas," he said in a tone of wonderment.
"I know. I've read it," she said dryly.
"Do you have a clue what this means?"
Excerpted from Never Tell by Karen Young Copyright © 2005 by Karen Young. Excerpted by permission.
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