Authors: Alice Sharpe
HE MAY HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS PAST, BUT NOT HOW HE FEELS ABOUT
Reeling after being left at the altar, Paige Graham seeks comfort in her secluded cabin. But there’s someone sleeping in her bed—a sharp-eyed, sexy stranger who claims to have no memory. While a little digging reveals John’s true identity, Paige knows there’s more to his past…and more to her feelings.
He may have been told who he is, but bodyguard John Cinca isn’t satisfied with the answers, especially when they place Paige in danger. With his protective instinct in high gear, John vows to uncover his true identity while keeping her safe. But what if recovering his memory means
is the one Paige should be afraid of?
Who was he, and what was he doing in her cabin?
Now that she’d seen his face, she wasn’t as frightened of him, and why was that? There wasn’t one cuddly thing about him. She should be running for her life.
Instead, cleaver still in hand, she sat down on a chair opposite him. “You think you fell down a waterfall?” she asked.
“I don’t know for sure,” he said, touching his lip and wincing.
“You must know
” she insisted.
He raised his gaze to hers. “I wish I did, lady, but I’m afraid that what you see is what you get.”
This book is dedicated to my best friend, my lover and my partner—my husband, Arnold Sharpe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alice Sharpe met her husband-to-be on a cold, foggy beach in Northern California. One year later they were married. Their union has survived the rearing of two children, a handful of earthquakes registering over 6.5, numerous cats and a few special dogs, the latest of which is a yellow Lab named Annie Rose. Alice and her husband now live in a small rural town in Oregon, where she devotes the majority of her time to pursuing her second love, writing.
Alice loves to hear from readers. You can write her c/o Harlequin Books, 233 Broadway, Suite 1001, New York, NY 10279. SASE for reply is appreciated.
Books by Alice Sharpe
746—FOR THE SAKE OF THEIR BABY
923—MY SISTER, MYSELF*
1076—THE LAWMAN’S SECRET SON**
1190—A BABY BETWEEN THEM
1209—THE BABY’S BODYGUARD
1315—WESTIN FAMILY TIES‡
**Skye Brother Babies
‡Open Sky Ranch
CAST OF CHARACTERS
He awakens after apparently falling down a waterfall. He’s lost his wallet and his memory. Now he’s wanted by both the police and a terrifying killer. If he’s going to save his life and that of the woman who risks everything to help him, he needs to find out what happened.
Left at the altar, she does what any brokenhearted gal would do—she goes on her honeymoon by herself where she can count on the fresh Montana mountain air to rejuvenate her spirit. If she can survive the man she finds in her bed.
He’s a retired ex-policeman who refuses to even own a gun. That may have been a bad decision on his part.
Big, mean and single-minded, exactly who is this guy and why is he so determined to kill John?
Paige’s little sister’s stubborn streak is going to exact a heavy price.
The man Paige was supposed to marry, he changed his mind at the last moment. However, not everybody knows the wedding didn’t take place—some think Paige is his wife, and that means he’s in the way….
Clues suggest she is important to John.
important is the question.
It’s generally accepted his coma is due to a beating delivered at the hands of John Cinca. If he can wake up in time, he might be able to reveal the truth.
A bodybuilder gifted with a streak of nice, he’s the one Katy counts on for help. But who’s going to help him?
She knew John many years. What she remembers of his past helps him to not only regain his future, but also catch a glimpse of the man who wants him dead.
Carol Ann Oates—
This older woman may hold the key to John’s lost memories, and that’s why it’s imperative he speak with her before it’s too late.
Something was wrong.
He must have fallen asleep in a strange position.
He opened his eyes slowly, concentrating for a moment. Rocks, from the size of a pea to a man’s fist. Ragged and round, all colors, russet and ivory and gray. A confetti of rocks…
And the nearby thunder of falling water.
But there was something else.
Nausea washed through him as he raised his head, but he kept pushing until he’d dragged himself into a sitting position, wincing as the torn flesh on his hands grated against the rocks. His vision wasn’t so good. He gingerly patted his face, felt the puffy skin around his left eye and the tear across his chin. His fingertips came away stained with bright red blood.
He was dressed in a suit, but he was sitting on a rocky beach. The swollen waters of a river washed over his loafer-clad feet, but he was so numb he couldn’t feel it. He pulled his legs clear of the water with the same sluggish sense of unreality with which he took in his surroundings.
Mountains and trees and a rocky riverbank. Rushing water and boulders. The sun was low in the sky. Where was he? How did he get here? He looked upriver and saw the waterfall and then looked down at his torn gray suit and the cuts and bruises on the skin that showed.
Had he fallen down that waterfall?
Who was he? Quick now, what was his name?
Wait. He must have a wallet with identification of some kind.
He patted his soggy suit pockets but found nothing except a few coins. A tight strap across his chest produced a holster under his jacket, and it still cradled a semiautomatic pistol.
What was he doing with a handgun out here of all places? Working on instinct, he pulled back the slide and ejected the clip. He was loaded and ready for—
Ready for what?
He snapped the gun back together and peered down the shoreline. A small bird perched on the tip of a rock. He moved ten feet to the right and targeted a knot on a piece of driftwood. Five seconds later, he pulled the trigger. The wood disintegrated as the startled bird flew toward the trees.
The gun worked.
But the shot echoed along the riverbank, and it came to him with a jolt that he’d just announced his exact location as though issuing a challenge. The hair on the back of his neck stood up; the nearby trees sprouted eyes.
Head spinning, he stumbled to his feet and once again glanced at the sun. It was not only lower in the sky, but drifting behind darkening clouds. He’d been going from one chore to the next at a steady pace, but it must have been in slow motion. There couldn’t be more than an hour or two of daylight left, and once the sun went down the temperature would drop. There was already a bluish cast beneath his fingernails, and if he didn’t make a point of forbidding it, his teeth clattered together.
But which way did he go?
His gut said he’d come from on top of the bluff. No way he could get back up there before dark. There was no point in following the river and there was no hope of crossing it. He turned toward the forest and started walking. There wasn’t a part of him that didn’t hurt.
As he limped under the evergreen cover he tripped, falling heavily onto the needled floor. His intention was to get up, keep going. Instead he closed his eyes and sank gratefully into oblivion.
* * *
RAHAM LEFT THE
Pollocks’ cabin soon after dinner, driving off into the rain without looking back.
They were nice people and she’d welcomed their company, even if they were at least a generation her senior. Over the course of the evening she’d learned a lot about them. He was a retired Chicago cop on a pension and she was a retired first-grade teacher. They’d raised four kids and had seven grandchildren. They lived in this area of remote Wyoming mountains year-round, modern-day pioneers who enjoyed a challenge.
In short, they had accomplished what Paige had always dreamed of: a true marriage, a lifetime commitment.
Kind of hard to witness right now. She’d left as soon as it was polite.
She slowed down as the car hit a mud puddle. A moment later, a bolt of lightning flashed in the sky. She counted. One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand… She got to five before thunder shook the car.
It was early in the year to be staying in the mountains, especially for a city girl like her, but she hadn’t intended on being here alone. She had six more nights of tranquility ahead of her, but she wasn’t sure she could take six more minutes of it.
As she was the only one renting a place during the middle of the week, she wasn’t surprised to find the other cabins dark. But her place was unlit, as well, and that did jolt her, as she’d specifically left the porch light burning.
More thunder heralded the dash between the car and the porch. She patted the outside wall, searching for the switch and finding it. It flicked up and down without result, which had to mean the electricity had gone out. The owner had warned this could happen. There was a flashlight inside somewhere. She just wasn’t sure where.
Perfect. Now she couldn’t even amuse herself watching the one fuzzy channel the antiquated television picked up. She couldn’t call anyone because her cell didn’t work due to all the trees, nor could she connect to the internet.
And just whom would she communicate with even if she could? Her mother? No, thanks. Her sister? Ditto. Her friends? Man, she’d bet they were having a heyday, half outraged on her behalf, half rabid for details. Who didn’t like a nice juicy scandal—besides the people involved in it, of course.