Holiday Confessions [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Anne Marie Winston
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: He had never seen her face--and yet he could read her better than any sighted man ever had. For ex-model Lynne Devane, meeting someone as powerful and sexy as Brendan Reilly--a man without an agenda--made her want to finally confess who she really was. Brendan had every intention of getting Lynne into his bed, but trusting her was another matter. History had taught him to steer clear of mysterious women--especially those expecting little wrapped boxes under the Christmas tree. If Lynne truly wanted him, she'd have to prove it.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Silhouette Desire
Fictionwise Release Date: November 2006
59 Reader Ratings:
Lynne DeVane was returning several more empty moving boxes from her new apartment to the hallway when she heard a loud crash and thud, followed by some very creative, vivid language. Whoa. She'd been a lot of places with a lot of jaded people but she'd never heard that particular combination of words before.
She dropped the boxes she was carrying and rushed through her open door into the hallway of the lovely old brick building in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where she'd just rented an apartment. Boxes were scattered everywhere around a man—a large man—she noted, who was just rising to his feet and dusting off his dark suit pants. A golden retriever stood close by, nosing at the man with apparent concern.
"Oh, Lord, I'm so sorry," she began.
"You should be." The man cut her off midsentence, his blue eyes on his dog rather than her. "The hallways aren't a repository for trash."
She was so stunned by his curt response that she didn't know what to say next. And before the right words came to her, the man groped for the frame of the open doorway directly opposite hers. "Feather, come." He didn't look back, but as she watched him fumble for a second with the doorknob, she felt concern rise.
"Hey, wait! Are you all right? Did you hit your head?"
Slowly, he turned to face her as the dog disappeared inside his home. "No, I did not hit my head. I banged the hell out of my knee and scraped my palm, but you don't have to worry about being sued."
"I—that wasn't it." She was taken aback by his abrupt manner. "You just looked as if you might be dizzy or disoriented and I was concerned."
"I'm fine." Now his voice sounded slightly weary. "Thank you for your concern."
He turned and found the doorknob again. But as he turned the knob and carefully moved forward, a realization struck her.
Her new neighbor was blind. Or, at the very least, significantly visually impaired.
The man vanished inside and the door closed with a definite clunk.
Well, cuss. That was hardly the way to get off on the right foot with your closest neighbor. She began to drag the offending boxes down the back stairs to the trash receptacles at the rear of the building, where she'd seen a cardboard recycling container. If she'd had any idea her neighbor couldn't see, she'd never have left boxes lying around in the hallway.
Even through her lingering chagrin, she remembered that he was extremely attractive, with dark, curly hair, a rough-hewn face with a square jaw and a deep cleft in his chin. The dog clearly had been anxious, and she wondered if it was a guide dog. But if it was, why hadn't it been guiding him? And if it wasn't, wouldn't he have been using a cane? Maybe she'd been wrong and he wasn't blind at all, just clumsy.
It didn't really matter. She owed him an apology. With cookies, she decided. Very few men could stay mad in the face of her grandmother's chocolate peanut-butter cookies, a family recipe bestowed on Lynne the day she graduated from high school. Neither of them could have guessed that it would be almost ten years before Lynne was able to eat those cookies again.
She hiked back up from the cardboard container and returned to her floor for a second trip. Maybe her neighbor would come out and she'd get another chance to apologize. But the door opposite hers was closed and it appeared that it was going to stay that way.
After the fourth trip she took a break and hung her grandmother's large mahogany-framed mirror above the sideboard in her dining area. She caught sight of her reflection as she stood back to admire it, and was momentarily taken aback by the stranger in the mirror.
The woman she saw was a slender, washed-out blonde with her hair twisted up in a messy knot. The woman she still subconsciously expected to see had a headful of layered, permed coppery hair and she was thin. Not just slender but really, really skinny. And she wouldn't be wearing ratty old jeans and a T-shirt. Instead she'd be in something unique from a top designer's fall collection.
More than a year had passed since she'd walked away from a major modeling career. Her timing was professional suicide. Even if she ever wanted to go back, she'd burned all her bridges completely. She'd just finished her first Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition when she'd made the decision. The only place to go from there had been up, but she'd opted out.
"But why?" her agent, Edwin, had asked in frustration. "You're the hottest thing since Elle MacPherson, honey. Your name could be bigger than anybody out there. Just think of it." He'd sketched a mock billboard in the air. "A'Lynne. Just a single name. The face of…Clinique, or Victoria's Secret, something major like that. How can you even consider quitting?"
"I'm not happy, Ed," she'd said quietly. And she wasn't. She was tired of hopping flights to God-knew-where for photo shoots in freezing-cold surf. She was tired of having to monitor every tiny bite she put in her mouth so that she didn't gain weight. She was sick of the casual hooking up and the partying that went on at so many of the functions she was required to attend.
But when one of the producers of the SI shoot had looked at her critically and said, "Girlie, you could stand to lose at least five pounds," something inside her had snapped. Enough was enough. She was already too thin for her almost six feet of height. And she wasn't even sure she remembered her real hair color. Like most of her co-workers, she sported a distinctive hairstyle and color as part of her public persona. Unlike many of them, though, she had yet to resort to bulimic strategies, binging and purging, to lose the necessary weight. Was she anorexic? She didn't think so. If she weren't modeling, she was pretty sure she wouldn't feel compelled to eat so very little.
Copyright © 2006 by Anne Marie Rodgers.