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Authors: Deborah Smith

Legends

BOOK: Legends
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Legends
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

A Loveswept eBook

Copyright © 1990 by Deborah Smith
Excerpt from
Remember the Time
by Annette Reynolds copyright © 1997 by Annette A. Reynolds.
Excerpt from
The Vow
by Juliana Garnett copyright © 1998 by Juliana Garnett.
Excerpt from
This Fierce Splendor
by Iris Johansen copyright ©1988 by Iris Johansen.
Excerpt from
The Baron
by Sally Goldenbaum copyright © 1987 by Sally Goldenbaum.
Excerpt from
Lightning that Lingers
by Sharon and Tom Curtis copyright © 1983 by Thomas Dale Curtis and Sharon Curtis.
Excerpt from
Tall, Dark, and Lonesome
by Debra Dixon copyright © 1993 by Debra Dixon.
Excerpt from
Dream Lover
by Adrienne Staff copyright © 1995 by Adrienne Staff.

All Rights Reserved.

Published in the United States by Loveswept, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

LOVESWEPT and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Cover photograph © George Kerrigan.

Cover image © Fuse/Gettyimages. Cover design: Derek Walls.

eISBN: 978-0-307-79666-0

www.ReadLoveSwept.com

v3.1_r1

Contents
One

Everything was right with Douglas Kincaid’s world. Behind him, a wall of magnificent windows showcased the glitter of Manhattan at night. He owned those windows sixty stories up with their awe-inspiring view. He also owned the fifty-nine stories below his Gucci-loafered feet. In fact he owned the entire skyscraper, which was named, with Douglas Kincaid’s usual humility, Kincaid Place.

He owned many other buildings, companies, and homes all over the world. He loved each one. Whether he sold one or traded one or bought many at a time, he always,
always
, put his name on a building or an enterprise he owned. Even the champion golden retriever who lay at his feet was named Kincaid’s Mighty Majestic. But because Douglas Kincaid didn’t take himself as seriously as the public and the media suspected, he privately called his dog Sam.

“Fetch, Sam. Get the Casner’s,” he said now, and Sam trotted to a gilt-and-lacquer bar in one corner of the huge room, where he rose on his hind legs and took a bottle of premium Scotch whisky in his powerful jaws.

Sam returned to his master’s side and woofed in satisfaction when Douglas caressed his head. After splashing Scotch into a crystal tumbler, Douglas set
the bottle on a glistening Art Deco side table, sipped his drink, and sighed with contentment.

Outside his darkly elegant office snow drifted over the city. Inside an exquisite music system whispered a seductive jazz selection. The atmosphere was perfect for his reflective mood. The night, New Year’s Eve, was perfect for beginning a new venture. He finished his drink, rubbed his hands together in anticipation, and grinned.

Douglas Kincaid was ready to put his name on a wife.

He leaned back in an opulent wing-backed chair, gave a droll salute to the party going on beyond a one-way wirror, then pressed the button on a speakerphone. “All right, Gert, let’s go through the list.”

An exasperated sigh preceded his assistant’s French-accented voice. “They’re all so unworthy, Monsieur K!”

He chuckled. “I have to start somewhere. Blondes are just round one. Go ahead, Gert.”

“Always the blondes, yes. There are five of them. If you will look to the right of the Picasso near the staircase, you’ll see the Duchess of Atworth. She’s speaking with Monsieur and Madame Trump.”

Douglas studied the packed ballroom framed by the one-way mirror in his hideaway. Finally he spotted the Duchess, engaged in animated conversation with his friends Donald and Ivana. “Not bad,” he told Gert. “But too young,”

“The older ones are more demanding.”

“I like a challenge. Next?”

“The singer Platinum. You recall she sent you that autographed bit of lingerie? She is seated at the grand piano with the maestro.”

“Hmmm. She seems to be tickling him while he tickles the ivories. I need a woman with more discretion—and much better taste in clothes. Black leather and sequins aren’t the style in evening gowns this season, are they?”

“Only in Hollywood, Monsieur.”

“Next.”

“Beside the waterfall, flicking her cigarette ashes into Monsieur’s priceless crystal vase, is the state supreme court judge who fixed Monsieur’s parking ticket.”

He smiled. “I’m likely to marry her just to taste nicotine again. I can’t risk that kind of temptation. Next?”

“A moment, Monsieur K. I’m searching.”

While he waited, Douglas let his gaze drift over the crowd and impatiently tapped a finger on the arm of his chair. Suddenly his field of vision was filled completely with shimmering green silk wrapped around a tall and very voluptuous female body.

Sam woofed softly.

“I agree,” Douglas told him.

His one-way mirror had been overwhelmed by glorious feminine curves swathed in a clinging, floor-length gown. Their owner was so tall and so close that the mirror could only capture her from the neck down. Except for the glass wall between them, Douglas could have reached out his hand and touched her, something he found himself very interested in doing.

She bent over and gazed at herself in the mirror, unknowingly presenting him with an intimate close-up of a mature, beautiful face plus a mane of elegantly shaggy blond hair that looked as if a man’s hands had just ruffled it.

Staring straight at him were large eyes the amber color of his Scotch. She pursed a regal, almost solemn mouth and checked its tinted edges with the tip of a glossy nail. Wrinkling a proudly sculptured nose, she blew a kiss at herself, though it could have been aimed at Douglas. Leaning even closer to the mirror, she adjusted her low-slung bodice. Douglas suddenly found himself admiring a stunning pair of barely covered breasts.

Gert’s exasperated sputtering came over the speakerphone. “
Mon Dieu!
She’s an exhibitionist! She’s
brought her melons to market and put them on display!”

Douglas fell back in his chair and roared with laughter, but he couldn’t take his eyes off the big, beautiful woman who had usurped his whole mirror. Elemental sensations slipped through his blood, and his laughter faded as breath deserted him. “Who is she?” he demanded quickly, his eyes never leaving her.

“Uhmmm, let’s see … let’s see …” He could hear Gert shuffling papers in her office. She yelped softly. “I have no photograph of this one, no statistics, nothing. She isn’t on my list! How could this have happened? She’s a gate-crasher! But how—oh, those fools in security! I’ll have their heads for this. This has never happened before. Are they all asleep?”

“Stunned, not asleep, I imagine.” Douglas continued to gaze admiringly at the woman, who was now running the tip of her tongue across a smudge of color on her lower lip. Douglas leaned forward and placed large, blunt fingers against the glass directly across from her provocatively moving tongue. Raw desire whipped through him so swiftly that he shivered.

Frowning at her power, he withdrew his hand. She must be smart, if she could get past one of the best security teams money could hire. All she had probably had to do was turn those odd, golden eyes on them, and they had been hypnotized. Much as he was now.

She was dressed to provoke male fantasies, but there was nothing sleazy about her. There was, instead, something mysterious.

Around her neck she wore a simple gold chain. Hanging from it was a fascinating pendant with an aged, antique look about it. Stamped into the gold were a pair of rams locked in combat. Above them and to their left stood a fierce-looking griffin. He was separated from the embattled rams by a sword, but also he seemed to be distant from them in attitude, watching them with an air of superiority.

“Do you wish for me to call security?” Gert asked. “Monsieur? Are you there?”

Douglas abruptly realized how mesmerized he was by the combination of the blonde’s eyes and the pendant. He rubbed his forehead. “Don’t report this, Gert. Just go out and talk to her. Tell her I’d like to invite her to my office for a glass of champagne.”

“As you wish, Monsieur K.”

Douglas flicked a switch on the phone console, and the mirror went dark. He shut his eyes and relished the moment when he’d meet his incredible gate-crasher in person. A minute later the phone beeped.

“Monsieur? She is eager for an introduction.” Gert’s voice held a tone of polite disgust. “But she asks to visit Kincaid Park. Such arrogance!”

Douglas laughed again. The blonde had studied him. She knew about his private forest atop the building. He liked her attention to detail—especially since it concerned him—and he liked her assertive attitude. “All right. I’ll grab a coat and go up right now. Tell her it’ll be cold. Provide a coat if she doesn’t have something warm enough.”

“Yes. She appears to be unaccustomed to covering herself.”

Douglas rose from his chair and gestured for Sam to follow. Where he went in the world, Sam went also, whether to a business meeting, a charity ball, a boxing match, or to meet a beautiful woman.

When Douglas stepped out of the elevator into the man-made forest atop his penthouse, he found the blonde waiting. She wore an emerald-green cape that matched her dress. It swirled around her from shoulders to feet. Lamps hidden in the shrubbery cast shadows on her that lent her an even greater air of mystery. Her face was teasingly obscured by the cape’s hood, but he couldn’t miss her slow, deliberate smile, filled with invitation.

Douglas felt his pulse throb in the most masculine places, but also acknowledged an unusual feeling of
fascination. The wind whipped the cape, molding it to her statuesque body. Douglas raised the cashmere collar of his overcoat and gallantly swept a hand toward a path in the forest. “Please. It’s less windy among the trees.”

She nodded but didn’t say a word. Growing more intrigued by the second, Douglas watched her glide into the thick fir woods as if she were a beautiful phantom disappearing into a land of giant Christmas trees. Sam galloped after her, as if compelled. Douglas followed with long, hurried strides, feeling a little ridiculous for being so easily led, but supremely confident that he’d have the upper hand soon.

She stopped and turned to face him. He halted also, and they gazed at each other in the shadows, no more than five feet apart. Snowflakes floated down around them. “Well, what do you think of New Year’s Eve at Kincaid Park?” he asked. “Not bad for a kid who started out selling cheap soap on street corners, hmmm? Impressive, isn’t it?”

He swung about slowly, his arms out, asking her to admire his hard-won paradise and comment appropriately. The second that he turned his back, he heard a soft popping sound. Something slapped him on the left side of the rump. Even through his thick overcoat, his tuxedo, and his custom-made underwear, he felt a sharp sting.

Douglas whirled around. Lethargy washed over him. He took a groggy step and swayed in place. She held a small pistol in one hand. She wasn’t smiling anymore. Woozy, he craned his head and looked at his wounded hip. He fumbled with the long dart that protruded from his coat, and it fell to the soft pine-needle cushion of the forest floor.

BOOK: Legends
7.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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