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Midnight Fantasy [Secure eReader]
eBook by Ann Major

eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: He Thought She Was A Rich Girl Looking For a Thrill.... Claire Woods was totally alluring--and completely out of Tag Campbell's reach. But when she needed him, he saved her. She touched raw places inside him, making him ache and crave things he'd thought he'd given up. What would it be like to have her waiting--every night--for him? He Was Her Darkest Fantasy--And Her Deepest Desire.... Tag Campbell haunted her. Like a pirate in tight denim, he captured her and declared his love in heated whispers. Claire had to make the decision of a lifetime--a quiet role in proper society or a wild, loving adventure with a man who was so wrong--but oh, so right!

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Special Edition
Fictionwise Release Date: May 2007

7 Reader Ratings:
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Five years later…

Stay with me, Frenchy. I need you.

That's as close as Tag had come to telling the best friend he'd ever had, he loved him.

But maybe Frenchy had known.

Tag had clasped him in his arms long after Frenchy's eyes had gone as glassy as the still bay, long after his skin had grown as cool as his dead mother's that awful morning when the alarm clock had kept ringing.

Stay with me, Frenchy.

He'd lashed the wheel of the shrimp boat to starboard with a nylon sheet… his makeshift autopilot… and headed home, cradling Frenchy's limp, grizzled head in his lap.

Stay with me, Frenchy.

But Frenchy's eyes had remained closed.

The deck had rolled under them.

* * *

It was midnight. The full moon shone through the twisted live oaks and tall grasses, casting eerie shadows across Frenchy's tombstone. Tag was all alone in that small, picturesque, historical cemetery located on a mound of higher earth that overlooked Rockport's moonwashed bay. Come morning, this time of year, the graves would be ablaze with wildflowers. Funny, how death could make you see the truth you didn't want to see. Tag had been living so hard and fast for so long, he hadn't admitted he'd loved the old bastard, till he'd held his friend's limp body and begun to weep.

"This wasn't supposed to happen! Damn your hide, Frenchy, for leaving me like everybody else…. But most of all I damn you for making me give a damn. It should be me who's dead."

They'd buried Frenchy beside his son, the son he'd lost right before Frenchy had saved Tag's life.

Tag was glad the cemetery was deserted. He didn't want anybody to see how profoundly Frenchy's death had upset him.

Sunken black circles ringed Tag's bloodshot eyes; his jaw was shadowed with several days of dark stubble. His stomach rumbled painfully from too much liquor and too little food.

The moon shone high in a cloudless, bright sky. The salt-laden sea air smelled of dry earth and newly mown grass. Frenchy's favorite kind of night. The shrimp would be running. Not that Tag could bear the thought of shrimping under a full moon without Frenchy.

Tag's big black bike was parked a little way from Frenchy's tombstone under a live oak tree that had been sculpted by the southeasterly prevailing winds that blew off the gulf, cooling its protected bays and low-lying coastal prairies.

Tag was kneeling before the pink tombstone. Soft as a prayer, his deep voice whispered. "Haunt me, Frenchy. Damn you, haunt me. Stay with me."

"You don't need an old man past his prime. You need a woman, kids," Frenchy had pointed out, in that maddening know-it-all way of his, a few nights ago.

"Strange advice coming from a man who's failed at marriage four times."

"Nothing like a pretty woman to make a man old enough to know better hope for the best. Life's a circle, constantly repeating itself."

God, I hope not.

"You're young. But you'll get old. You'll die. Life's short. You gotta fall in love, get married, spawn kids, repeat the circle."

"There's places in my circle I don't want to revisit."

"You're not the tough guy you pretend. You're the marrying kind."

"Where'd you get a damn fool notion like that?"

"You're either sulkin' or ragin' mad."

"Which is why you think I'd make a delightful husband."

"You don't fit in here. Your heart's not in bars or fights or gambling… or even in fishing. Or even in getting laid by those rich, wild girls who come to Shorty's looking for a fast tumble in the back seat of their car with a tough guy like you."

"What if I said I like what they do to me? And what if I said I can do without a heart, old man?"

"You're a liar. You got a heart, a big one, whether you want it or not. It's just busted all to pieces same as your pretty, sissy-boy face. Only the right woman can fix what ails you."

"You're getting mighty mushy, old man."

"You think you can stay dead forever?"

The wind drifting through moss and honeysuckle brought the scent of the sea, reminding him of the long hours of brutal work on a shrimp boat. The work numbed him. The beauty of the sea and its wildlife comforted him, made this hellish exile in an alien world somehow more endurable. Just as those women and what they did to him in their cars gave him a taste of what he'd once had, so that he could endure this life. But always after the women left, he felt darker, as if everything that was good in him had been used up. Which was what he wanted. Maybe if they used him long enough, he wouldn't feel anything.

Tag knelt in the soft earth and studied the snapshot of a younger Frenchy framed in cracked plastic in the center of the pink stone.

"You're a coward to run from who you are and what you want, Tag Campbell—a coward, pure and simple."

Tag had sprung out of his chair so fast, he'd knocked it over. "You lowdown, ignorant cuss! Every time you drink, your jaw pops like that loose shutter."

Frenchy laughed. "What's the point of wisdom, if I can't pass it on to a blockhead like you? Life's a circle…."

"Don't start that circle garbage."

Tag had slammed out of the beach house, taken the boat out, stayed gone the rest of the night on that glassy, moonlit sea. He hadn't apologized when he saw Frenchy waiting for him on the dock.

Copyright © 2000 by Ann Major.

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