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Authors: Diana Palmer

September Morning

BOOK: September Morning
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At thirty-four, Blake Hamilton was an arrogant lady-killer determined to keep his heart free. But to Kathryn Mary Kilpatrick he was a guardian stricter than the father she'd lost. She tried to rebel in the arms of another man…until a furious Blake promised to teach her a lesson she'd never forget, plunging them both into a fiery passion that was dangerously close to love!


New York Times
Bestselling Author


Dear Reader,

I really can't express how flattered I am and also how grateful I am to Harlequin Books for releasing this collection of my published works. It came as a great surprise. I never think of myself as writing books that are collectible. In fact, there are days when I forget that writing is work at all. What I do for a living is so much fun that it never seems like a job. And since I reside in a small community, and my daily life is confined to such mundane things as feeding the wild birds and looking after my herb patch in the backyard, I feel rather unconnected from what many would think of as a glamorous profession.

But when I read my email, or when I get letters from readers, or when I go on signing trips to bookstores to meet all of you, I feel truly blessed. Over the past thirty years, I have made lasting friendships with many of you. And quite frankly, most of you are like part of my family. You can't imagine how much you enrich my life. Thank you so much.

I also need to extend thanks to my family (my husband, James, son, Blayne, daughter-in-law, Christina, and granddaughter, Selena Marie), to my best friend, Ann, to my readers, booksellers and the wonderful people at Harlequin Books—from my editor of many years, Tara, to all the other fine and talented people who make up our publishing house. Thanks to all of you for making this job and my private life so worth living.

Thank you for this tribute, Harlequin, and for putting up with me for thirty long years! Love to all of you.

Diana Palmer

New York Times
Bestselling Author

Diana Palmer

The Essential Collection
Long, Tall Texans…and More!


Regan's Pride
That Burke Man
Circle of Gold
Cattleman's Pride

The Princess Bride
Coltrain's Proposal
A Man of Means
Maggie's Dad
Rage of Passion

Love with a Long, Tall Texan
(containing “Guy,” “Luke” and “Christopher”)
Heart of Ice
Fit for a King
The Rawhide Man

A Long, Tall Texan Summer
(containing “Tom,” “Drew” and “Jobe”)
Dream's End
Champagne Girl
Friends and Lovers
The Wedding in White

Heather's Song
Snow Kisses
To Love and Cherish
Long, Tall and Tempted
(containing “Redbird,” “Paper Husband” and “Christmas Cowboy”)
The Australian
Darling Enemy

Sweet Enemy
Soldier of Fortune
The Tender Stranger
After the Music
The Patient Nurse

The Case of the Mesmerizing Boss
The Case of the Confirmed Bachelor
The Case of the Missing Secretary
September Morning
Diamond Girl
Eye of the Tiger

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter One

he meadow was dew-misted, and the morning had the nip of a September breeze to give it life. Kathryn Mary Kilpatrick tossed her long black hair and laughed with the sheer joy of being alive. The sound startled the chestnut gelding she was riding, making it dance nervously over the damp ground.

“Easy, boy,” she said soothingly, her gloved hand reaching out to touch his mane gently.

He calmed, reacting to the familiar caress. Sundance had been hers since he was a colt, a present from Blake on her sixteenth birthday. Sundance was a mature five-year-old now, but some of his coltish uncertainties lingered. He was easily startled and high-strung. Like Kathryn Mary.

Her dark green eyes shimmered with excitement as she studied the long horizon under the pink and amber swirls of the dawn sky. It was so good to be home again. The exclusive girls’ school had polished her manners and given her the poise of a model, but it had done nothing to cool her ardor for life or to dampen the passion she felt for Greyoaks. Despite the fact that the Hamiltons’ South Carolina farm was her home by adoption, not by birth, she loved every green, rolling hill and pine forest of it, just as though she were a Hamilton herself.

A flash of color caught her attention, and she wheeled Sundance as Phillip Hamilton came tearing across the meadow toward her on a thoroughbred Arabian with a coat like polished black leather. She smiled, watching him. If Blake ever caught him riding one of his prize breeding stallions like that, it would mean disaster. What luck for Phillip that Blake was in Europe on business. Maude might indulge her youngest, but Blake indulged no one.

“Hi!” Phillip called breathlessly. He reined in just in front of her and caught his wind, tossing back his unruly brown hair with a restless hand. His brown eyes twinkled with mischief as they swept over her slender figure in the chic riding habit. But the mischief went out of them when he noticed her bare head.

“No helmet?” he chided.

She pouted at him with her full, soft lips. “Don't scold,” she accused. “It was just a little ride, and I hate wearing a hard hat all the time.”

“One fall and you'd be done for,” he observed.

“You sound just like Blake!”

He smiled at her mutinous look. “Too bad he missed your homecoming. Oh, well, he'll be back at the end of the week—just in time for the Barringtons’ party.”

“Blake hates parties,” she reminded him. Her eyes lowered to the rich leather of her Western saddle. “And he hates me too, most of the time.”

“He doesn't,” Phillip returned. “It's just that you set fire to his temper, you rebellious little witch. I can remember a time when you all but worshiped my big brother.”

She grimaced, turning her eyes to the long horizon where thoroughbred Arabians grazed on lush pasture grass, their black coats shimmering like oil in the sunlight. “Did I?” She laughed shortly. “He was kind to me once, when my mother died.”

“He cares about you. We all do,” he said gently.

She smiled at him warmly and reached out an impulsive hand to touch his sleeve. “I'm ungrateful, and I don't mean to be. You and your mother have been wonderful to me. Taking me in, putting me through school—how could I be ungrateful?”

“Blake had a little to do with it,” he reminded her wryly.

She tossed her hair back impatiently. “I suppose,” she admitted grudgingly.

“Finishing school was his idea.”

“And I hated it!” she flashed. “I wanted to go to the university and take political science courses.”

“Blake likes to entertain buyers,” he reminded her. “Political science courses don't teach you how to be a hostess.”

She shrugged. “Well, I'm not going to be here forever, despite the fact that you and Blake are my cousins,” she said. “I'll get married someday. I know I owe your family a lot, but I'm not going to spend my whole life playing hostess for Blake! He can get married and let his wife do it. If he can find anyone brave enough,” she added waspishly.

“You've got to be kidding, Cuz,” he chuckled. “They follow him around like ants on a sugar trail. Blake could have his pick when it comes to women, and you know it.”

“It must be his money, then,” she said tightly, “because it sure isn't his cheerful personality that draws them!”

“You're just sore because he wouldn't let you go away with Jack Harris for the weekend,” he teased.

She flushed right up to her hairline. “I didn't know Jack had planned for us to be alone at the cottage,” she protested. “I thought his parents were going to be there, too.”

“But you didn't think to check. Blake did.” He laughed at her expression. “I'll never forget how he looked when Jack came to get you. Or how Jack looked when he left, alone.”

She shivered at the memory. “I'd like to forget.”

“I'll bet you would. You've been staring daggers at Blake ever since, but it just bounces right off. You don't dent him, do you?”

“Nothing dents Blake,” she murmured. “He just stands there and lets me rant and rave until he's had enough, then he turns that cold voice on me and walks away. He'll be glad when I'm gone,” she said in a quiet voice.

“You're not going anywhere yet, are you?” he asked suddenly.

She darted a mischievous glance at him. “I
thought about joining the French Foreign Legion,” she admitted. “Do you think I could get my application accepted before the weekend?”

He laughed. “In time to escape Blake? You know you've missed him.”

“I have?” she asked with mock innocence.

“Six months is a long time. He's calmed down.”

“Blake never forgets,” she sighed miserably. She stared past Phillip to the towering gray stone house in the distance with its graceful arches and the cluster of huge live oaks dripping Spanish moss that stood like sentries around it.

“Don't work yourself into a nervous breakdown,” Phillip said comfortingly. “Come on, race me back to the house and we'll have breakfast.”

She sighed wearily. “All right.”


Maude's dark eyes lit up when the two of them walked into the elegant dining room and seated themselves at the polished oak table.

She had the same olive skin and sharp, dark eyes as her eldest son, the same forthright manner and quick temper. Maude was nothing like Phillip. She lacked his gentleness and easy manner, as well as his pale coloring. Those traits came from his late father, not from his maverick mother, who thought nothing of getting a congressman out of bed at two in the morning if she wanted a piece of pending legislation explained to her.

“It's good to have you home, baby,” Maude told Kathryn, reaching out a slender, graceful hand to touch the younger woman's arm. “I'm simply surrounded by men these days.”

“That's the truth,” Phillip said wryly as he helped himself to scrambled eggs from the bone china platter. “Matt Davis and Jack Nelson nearly came to blows over her at a cocktail party last week.”

Maude glared at him. “That isn't so,” she protested.

BOOK: September Morning
7.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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