Beautiful, talented Glenna Reynolds would like to be focusing on her writing career, but she knows that if the government shuts down her family’s West Virginia coal mine, it would kill her father. Accompanying him for a meeting at the world-famous Greenbrier spa in the magnificent Allegheny Valley, Glenna encounters Jett Coulson for the first time. The handsome tycoon holds their family business in his powerful hands—and his self-assured charm combined with his rough, raw masculinity takes her breath away.
But Jett isn’t interested in absorbing the Reynolds’ mining operation into his conglomerate—and after just a few precious moments spent with intoxicating, chestnut-haired Glenna, he already has a very different kind of merger in mind.
With more than 300 million copies of her novels sold, New York Times–bestselling author Janet Dailey can rightfully be called America’s most beloved romance writer. Her Americana series now makes an unforgettable stop in West Virginia, as love blooms against a majestic mountain vista.
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Wild And Wonderful
The Americana Series: West Virginia
By Janet Dailey
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1980 Janet Dailey
All rights reserved.
THE FIRE-RED PORSCHE convertible hugged the twisting, curving road through the West Virginia mountainscape, a splash of scarlet on the gray ribbon of concrete winding through the spring-green country. With the car's top down, the driver was exposed to the lingering sun and the billowing white clouds in the light blue sky.
Rounding a curve, Glenna Reynolds briefly lifted her face to the warmth of the sun. The teasing fingers of a speed-generated breeze tugged at her dark auburn hair, whirling its long curls away from her shoulders. A pair of owl-round sunglasses shielded her gray green eyes from the angling glare of the late afternoon sun. Contentment was etched in her vital and expressive features, a contentment born from a day spent pursuing journalistic pleasures.
On the passenger seat of the sports car, a camera was concealed in its leather case, along with a notebook containing scribbled impressions. Together the two contained a collection of springtime images that continued to float in Glenna's mind.
The wildly beautiful mountains and valleys of West Virginia had revealed its May treasures to her. Wildflowers were blooming at their peak, from the delicate lady's slipper to the flame azalea, their multicolored displays of beauty trapped in film. Jotted notations reaffirmed the camera's record of fox pups playing outside their den, tiny chipmunks darting about the forest floor, and the young fawn camouflaged and hidden at a meadow's edge.
Noted, too, were the sensations of being able to hear the new leaves growing, the fragile spring green rivaled only by the flowering red maple. Another time the hush of the woods had been broken by the drumming of a ruffed grouse. The camera shutter hadn't been quick enough to catch the jeweled flash of a scarlet tanager flitting through the trees, but hastily scribbled phrases had recorded the sighting on the pages of her notebook.
Captivated by the charm of spring, Glenna had tarried longer than she had intended. A glance at her watch increased the pressure of her foot on the accelerator pedal. The last thing she wanted was for her father to become concerned about her whereabouts. She regretted that she hadn't left him a message warning him that she might be late.
Since his heart attack this last winter, his second one, Orin Reynolds had become more conscious of her absences from him. Her father's attitude was not at all possessive. It was more an awareness of the shortness of his time to spend with her, something Glenna reciprocated in full. Even though he was as fully recovered from the attack as he would ever be, Glenna knew how slim the chance was that he would survive a third major attack.
She no longer took his presence in her life for granted and had adjusted her life-style and career to allow more time with her father. When he had been released from the hospital this last time, Glenna had wanted to give up everything to stay at home and take care of him. Orin Reynolds had rejected her suggestion, insisting that a temporary nurse and their housekeeper-cook, Hannah Burns, could take adequate care of him, and wisely informing her that she would need to escape into her writing. His advice had proved over and over again to be correct. If she needed further proof of it, the exhilarating flow of thoughts and ideas from today's outing provided it.
Braking, Glenna slowed the car to make the turn onto the graveled lane leading to the large white house nestled on the mountain slope amid the trees. It was a graceful old building, once the main house of a large estate, but the fertile valley land had been sold off some years ago. All that remained of the former land was the immediate grounds of the house and the few nontillable acres surrounding it.
Glenna recognized the car parked in the driveway and smiled wryly. Although the doctor had limited the amount of time Orin Reynolds was allowed to spend at the office of his coal-mining operation to three days a week, her father had insisted on daily reports when he wasn't there. Hence, Bruce Hawkins's car was a familiar sight.
The garage was separate from the house, a small stable converted some sixty years ago to hold automobiles. Its double set of doors beckoned to the red Porsche, but Glenna stopped the car short of its protection. There was time enough later to put it away.
Tipping her sunglasses atop her head, she collected the camera case and notebook from the passenger seat and left the car keys in the ignition for the time being. Her long legs swiftly climbed the veranda steps to the front door.
There was a pause in her stride as she entered the foyer, pushing the door shut behind her and turning to the study that had originally been the front parlor of the old house. The solid oak doors slid open at the touch of her hand, bringing the conversation within to an abrupt end.
Her heart was squeezed by the harrowed and worried lines that aged her father's face twenty years. The instant his gaze lighted on her face, his expression underwent a transformation—the tension smoothing into a welcoming smile of false unconcern. This sudden attempt to mask his feelings puzzled and frightened Glenna. What was he trying to hide?
Walking toward his chair, Glenna fixed a smile on her mouth while her eyes searched his face. But her poker-playing father revealed none of his inner thoughts. If she had knocked at the study door she wouldn't have seen even that brief glimpse of his inner anxiety.
"Had you started to wonder where I was?" Her voice was cheerful as she deposited her camera and notebook on the sturdy oak desk before she reached his chair. Resting a hand on the chair arm, Glenna bent down to brush her lips to the pallor of his cheeks, a color that had become natural to his complexion.
"I hadn't," Orin Reynolds insisted with a bright sparkle in his eyes. "I knew you would wander in sooner or later, but I think Bruce was becoming concerned whether you were going to show up."
Glenna straightened and looked in the direction her father had glanced. Bruce Hawkins was standing beside the fireplace, a shoulder leaning against the marble mantlepiece. His blue gaze was warmly admiring in its inspection of her, taking in the wind-tossed curls of her chestnut hair, the loose-fitting velour sweater the color of butter cream draping the swelling mounds of her breasts, and the slimness of her hips and long legs in her brushed-denim jeans. The frank-appreciation in his look held a hint of reserve, out of respect for her father's presence.
"Where have you been?" Bruce asked the question her father hadn't. There was nothing interrogating in it, just casual interest.
"Communing with Mother Nature," Glenna replied.
Her gray green eyes swept his straw-colored hair and square-jawed face. Bruce was good-looking, intelligent, and ambitious. Since her father's first attack more than two years ago, he had assumed more and more responsibility for the operation of the Reynoldses' coal mine.
It was really only after her father's first heart attack that Glenna had become acquainted with him. The relationship between them had grown slowly until it had reached its present point where they were more than friends but not quite lovers.
Glenna was fully aware that she was the one unwilling to let their relationship progress any further. Her hesitancy was something that confused Glenna. Bruce appeared to represent all that she desired in a man, yet some vital ingredient seemed to be missing. Its lack kept her from making any firm commitment.
Sometimes she thought it was a loyalty to her father that made her hold back. Other times, like now, Glenna simply didn't, know why she was reluctant. One word from her, one indication of acceptance, and she knew Bruce would propose.
"Communing with nature," Bruce repeated her answer. "With your eye on the plan to write a series of articles, I'll wager."
"You guessed right," Glenna agreed, leaving the uncertainty of her feelings toward Bruce to be examined at a later time. "That's one thing about free-lancing; I can slant an article so many different ways that I can sell the same story line to several different periodicals."
"And your head is buzzing with all of the ideas," her father surmised.
The softness of her throaty laugh was an affirmative answer, because it had been true when she entered the study although a whole new set of thoughts had subsequently supplanted the ideas for the nature-oriented articles.
"There's some coffee in the pot yet. Would you like a cup?" Bruce offered, moving to the china coffee service sitting on the oblong coffee table in front of the sofa.
Briefly, Glenna resented this extension of hospitality in her own home, but she quelled it. Bruce's familiarity was something both she and her father had invited. Besides, there was a certain thoughtfulness in his request. She wondered at her sudden sensitivity to the situation.
"I'd love some, thank you." She took a seat on the sofa while he poured a cup and handed it to her. Black, with no sugar, the way she liked it. Bruce sank his lean frame onto the cushion beside her, an arm automatically seeking the backrest of the sofa behind her head, but he didn't touch her.
"How are things at the mine?" The question from Glenna was an absent one, issued automatically, a polite inquiry because it was Bruce's province.
Glenna glanced over the rim of her coffee cup in time to see Bruce dart a sharp look at her father. Then he replied, too blandly, "Fine."
Instantly she knew there was a problem. A serious one. She sipped at her coffee, using the action to hide her knowledge while her mind raced back to the anxious expression on her father's face when she had entered the room.
"I invited Bruce to dinner this evening," her father informed her with a subtle change of subject. "Hannah assured me the main dish would stretch to feed four. The way she cooks I can never decide whether she is trying to fatten us up or trying to feed an army. The woman always cooks enough for ten people."
"Heaven knows you need some fattening up," Glenna observed, commenting on his weight loss that had made his usually brawny frame appear gaunt. But she knew he disliked any discussion of his health and turned to Bruce. "You are staying?" The lilt of her voice changed the statement into a question.
"I never turn down an invitation for a home-cooked meal or the company of a lovely young woman." His casually worded answer was at war with the flattering intensity of his look.
Glenna teased him deliberately. "I shall have to warn Hannah that you have designs on her, as well as her cooking."
Bruce chuckled, amused by her response. The movement of her father's hand distracted her attention. He was reaching automatically into the breast pocket of his shirt for a cigarette. Orin Reynolds had quit smoking after his first heart attack. Only in moments of severe stress did the habit reassert itself. His shirt pocket no longer held a pack of cigarettes. Glenna noticed the faint tremor of his hand when it was lowered to the armrest. It was not a withdrawal symptom from smoking.
"After two years, you can't still want a cigarette, dad," she chided to make him aware she had seen his action. It didn't prompt the reaction she wanted.
Just for a second the facade of well-being slipped to reveal an expression that appeared supremely tired and defeated. A chill raced down Glenna's spine at the sullenness in his gray eyes before he laughed gruffly. Something was very wrong. Glenna only wished that she knew what it was.
"After two years I am craving the taste of tobacco. There are times when heaven to me is a smoke-filled poker room with whiskey and cigarettes amid a raucous backdrop of fiddle music instead of fluffy clouds, halos, and harps," he joked. "There are times when the quality of life outweighs the quantity."
"That is a rather morbid observation, dad." Glenna forced a smile, but she was aware that there was very little color in her cheeks. She saw the grain of truth in his words, but her father had always been a fighter, battling the odds stacked against him. His remark had smacked of surrender. It wasn't something she could understand, even issued in jest.
"I suppose it is, but sometimes I ..." He stopped and breathed out a sigh. His mouth twitched into a rueful smile, vitality dancing back to glitter in his eyes. "I guess I'm tired."
"Why don't you lie down for a few minutes before dinner?" Glenna suggested. "I'll keep Bruce company."
"Did you hear that, Bruce?" her father mocked. "She sounds so concerned about me, doesn't she? But a father knows when his daughter doesn't want him around."
Her fingers tightened on the curved handle of her coffee cup. It was action designed to keep Glenna from leaping to her feet to help her father out of the chair. He hated any acknowledgment of the weakness of his muscles. It was a slow process, but he rose, unaided, to walk stiffly from the room.
Her throat was hurting by the time she heard the study door slide shut behind him. She stared at the coffee in the china cup she, was holding so tightly. There was a stony clarity to her eyes—eyes that had become strangers to tears.
"What is wrong at the mine, Bruce?" she demanded without looking up.
A second of pregnant silence was followed by a hollow laugh. "I don't know what you are talking about. Nothing is wrong at the mine."
"It must be very serious for both you and dad to lie to me." Glenna set the cup on the table with a briskness that rattled it against its saucer.
She rose so abruptly that she dislodged the sunglasses from their perch atop her head. Impatiently she removed them and folded the bows with a decisive snap before setting them on the table, too.
Heavily fringed with lashes, her eyes narrowed their gaze on Bruce. "I want to know what it is."
"There isn't anything you can do." He looked grim.
"You don't know that," she retorted. "I haven't heard any talk of a wildcat strike. And I can't believe the miners would walk out on dad like that, anyway. If it's a labor problem, surely dad can iron it out if you can't."
"It isn't labor." He avoided her gaze, his jaw hardening.
Glenna frowned. With that possibility eliminated, she was at a loss to guess the cause. "Then what is it? You are a mining engineer so it can't be anything technical."
"It's the government." The hint that his skill was being questioned forced Bruce into supplying the reason.
"What? Taxes?" She couldn't imagine her father getting into a position where he was delinquent in employee taxes.
"Nothing so simple," Bruce replied in a scoff-ring breath and pushed to his feet. He shoved his hands into the hip pockets of his slacks, an action that pushed his shoulders back and stretched the material of his blue shirt across the sinewed width of his chest. "The mine failed its safety inspection."
"How bad is it?" Glenna heard the dullness in her voice, the feeling of dread sweeping over her.
"They are issuing an injunction to shut the mine down within thirty days if the necessary steps aren't taken immediately to correct the situation," he announced in a voice as leaden as her own.
"Surely you can appeal the ruling—gain more time," she argued.
"That's what I've been doing for the last year and a half," he snapped in a sudden blaze of temper. "We ran out of time. There won't be any more postponements."
Parallel furrows ran across her forehead. "If you knew, it was coming, why didn't you take steps to correct the problem?" Glenna challenged in a spate of responding anger. "Why did you leave it until the last minute? I suppose you just dumped this all on dad this afternoon—when it's practically too late to do anything to stop it. No wonder he acted so defeated. He isn't well. He trusted you to—"
"Orin has known from the start!" Bruce interrupted sharply. "If I'd had my choice, I would have begun implementing and installing new safety measures. But I didn't have any say in the matter."
"Are you implying that my father knowingly endangered the lives of the miners?" The accusation brought a pronounced silver glitter to her eyes, making them icy and more gray than green.
"For God's sake! He had no more choice in the matter than I did."
He turned away to rest an arm on the mantle of the fireplace, bending his head to rub his hand over his mouth and chin in a gesture of exasperation and futility.
Her anger dissipated at his attitude of helplessness. "What do you mean? Why didn't he have a choice?" Glenna frowned. "You said yourself that the solution was to comply."
Excerpted from Wild And Wonderful by Janet Dailey. Copyright © 1980 Janet Dailey. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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