Linda Howard Duncan's Bride WIFE WANTED Reese Duncan lost half his ranch and all his dreams to his ex-wife, so when i. Reese Duncan wanted a wife, pure and simple. Someone to have children with, someone to help him rebuild his ranch, someone. Duncan's Bride (Patterson-Cannon Family #1) ". By: Linda Howard. Epub Download Gratis, Ebook Download Pdf, Ebook Download Pdf.
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Robert was a true enigma: Madelyn was unique in that she even knew that core existed. No one else had ever seen that much of him. In the years since he had inherited the Cannon Companies, he had reshaped the various enterprises and made them even larger and richer than before. An enormous amount of power rested in his lean hands, but not even the Cannon empire seemed to reach that private center of him. The inner man was a citadel, inviolate. It was as if he kept himself leashed, his fires banked.
Women flocked around him, of course, but he was particular in his bed partners and preferred monogamy to musical beds. When he chose a particular woman friend, they were usually together for at least a year, and he was entirely faithful to her for as long as the affair lasted. One of his ex-amours had gotten drunk and cried on Madelyn's shoulder at a party shortly after Robert had ended their affair, sobbing that she would never be able to love another man because how could anyone compare to Robert?
The woman's drunken confession had, so far, been pathetically accurate; she had drifted into a couple of affairs, but both of them had been short-lived, and since then she had stopped dating entirely.
Now he was watching Madelyn with his amused eyes, and after a minute she answered her own question. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, you're an enigma inside a puzzle wrapped in a riddle, or some such complicated drivel. He tasted the Scotch, savoring the smoky bite of it. Madelyn gave him an angelic look that deepened the amused expression in his eyes.
He followed her, and without hesitation began helping her carry the food to the table. Basically, as you said, it's time. She smiled as she poured wine into their glasses. There's a possibility of matrimony. Forty percent chance of matrimony? I won't know until I meet the man. Madelyn watched him with interest. It was one of the very few times when she could say she had seen Robert actually surprised.
He said, very carefully, "Do you mean you haven't met him yet? We've corresponded, but we've never actually met. And we might not like each other in person. There's only a very small chance of matrimony, actually. In weather terms, no accumulation expected. I wanted you to know. I know a little about him, but not much. Madelyn took pity on him and ladled the thick, spicy sauce over his pasta before it grew cold, since it looked as if he had totally forgotten about it.
She nodded and turned her attention to her own plate. You wouldn't panic if I'd told you I'd met someone at a singles bar in Manhattan, and that's a lot riskier than meeting a rancher from Montana. What if this man is abusive? What if he has a criminal record, or is a con man? Just how much do you know about him? He owns a ranch in central Montana, and he's divorced, no children. I've been writing to a box number in Billings. She also knew that he would have Reese Duncan thoroughly investigated; she thought of protesting, but decided that it wouldn't make any difference.
By the time Robert had his report, she would already have met Mr. Duncan and formed her own opinion. She could even see why Robert felt alarmed and protective, though she didn't agree that there was any need for it. Duncan's blunt correspondence had reassured her that this was a man who dealt in the unvarnished truth and didn't give a damn how it looked or sounded. It was relaxing not to have to gauge the sincerity of a come-on line. Madelyn was as curious as a cat, in her own lazy way.
She didn't scurry around poking her nose into every new detail that came her way, but she would eventually get around to investigating any subject or situation that intrigued her. He could see where an ad for a wife would have been irresistible to her; once she had read it, it would have been a foregone conclusion that she had to meet the man for herself. If there was no way he could talk her out of going, he could make certain she wouldn't be in danger. Before she got on that plane, he would know if this Reese Duncan had any sort of criminal record, even so much as a parking ticket.
If there was any indication that Madelyn wouldn't be perfectly safe, he would keep her off the flight if he had to sit on her. As if she'd read his mind, she leaned forward.
She had that angelic expression again, the one that made him wary. When Madelyn was angelic, she was either blisteringly angry or up to mischief, and he could never tell which until it was too late.
She never bluffed, never threatened unless she was prepared to carry through on her threats. Without a word, Robert tugged his white handkerchief out of his pocket and waved it in surrender. Chapter 2 The flight was a bit early landing in Billings. Madelyn carefully scrutinized the small group of people waiting to greet those leaving the plane, but she didn't see any lone males who appeared to be looking for her.
She took a deep breath, glad of the small reprieve. She was unexpectedly nervous. She used the time to duck into the ladies' room; when she came out, she heard her name being called in a tinny voice. Madelyn Patterson, please meet your party at the Information desk. She liked the feeling of excitement. Anticipation and curiosity were killing her. She walked with an easy stride that was more of a stroll than anything else, despite her excitement.
Her eyes were bright with pleasure. The Billings airport, with its big fountain, was more attractive than the general run of airports, and she let the surroundings begin to soothe her. She was only a little nervous now, and even that small bit wasn't revealed. That must be him, leaning against the Information desk.
He was wearing a hat, so she couldn't see his face all that well, but he was trim and fit. A smile quirked her mouth. This was a truly impossible situation. A real wild goose chase. They would meet, be polite, spend a polite day together; then tomorrow she would shake his hand and tell him she had enjoyed the visit, and that would be the end of it. It would all be very civil and low-keyed, just the way she liked — He straightened from his relaxed position against the desk and turned toward her.
Madelyn felt his eyes focus on her and grow intent. She knew the meaning of the word poleaxed, but this was the first time she had ever experienced the feeling.
Her lazy walk faltered, then stopped altogether. She stood frozen in the middle of the airport, unable to take another step. This had never happened to her before, this total loss of composure, but she was helpless. She felt stunned, as if she'd been kicked in the chest. Her breath came in short, shallow gasps; her carry-on bag slipped out of her fingers and landed on the floor with a soft thud.
She felt like a fool, but didn't really care. She couldn't stop staring at him. It was just old-fashioned lust, that was all. It couldn't be anything else, not at first sight. She felt panic at the very idea that it could be anything else. Just lust. He wasn't the most handsome man she'd ever seen, because New York was full of gorgeous men, but it didn't matter.
In all the ways that did matter, all the primitive, instinctual ways, call it chemistry or electricity or biology or whatever, he was devastating. The man oozed sex. Every move he made was imbued with the sort of sensuality and masculinity that made her think of sweaty skin and twisted sheets. Dear God, why on earth should this man ever have had to advertise for a wife? He was at least six-three, and muscled with the iron, layered strength of a man who does hard physical labor every day of his life.
He was very tanned, and his hair, what she could see of it under his hat, was dark brown, almost black. His jaw was strongly shaped, his chin square, his mouth clear-cut and bracketed by twin grooves.
He hadn't dressed up to meet her, but was wearing a plain white shirt with the cuffs unbuttoned and rolled back, ancient jeans and scuffed boots.
She found herself frantically concentrating on the details of his appearance while she tried to deal with the havoc he was wreaking on her senses, all without saying a word. None of her excited imaginings had prepared her for this. What was a woman supposed to do when she finally met the man who turned her banked coals into a roaring inferno? Madelyn's first thought was to run for her life, but she couldn't move.
Reese's first thought was that he'd like to take her to bed, but there was no way he'd take her to wife. She was everything he'd been afraid she would be: It was obvious from the top of her silky blond head down to the tips of her expensive shoes. She was wearing white, not the most practical color for travel, but she was immaculate, without even a wrinkle to mar her appearance.
Her skirt was pencil-slim and stopped just above her knees, revealing knockout legs. Reese felt his guts tighten, just looking at her legs. He wrenched his gaze upward with an effort that almost hurt and was struck by her eyes.
Beneath the loose, matching jacket she was wearing a skimpy top in a rich blue color that should have made her eyes look blue, but didn't. Her eyes made him feel as if he were drowning. They were gray, very gray, without a tinge of blue. Soft-looking eyes, even now when they were large with He wasn't certain of the expression, but belatedly he realized that she was very pale and still, and that she'd dropped her bag.
He stepped forward, seizing on the excuse to touch her. He curved his hand around her upper arm, which felt cool and slim under his warm palm. Miss Patterson? How could such a small thing produce such an upheaval? His closeness brought with it the animal heat of his body, the scent of him, and she wanted to simply turn into his arms and bury her face against his neck.
Panic welled up in her. She had to get out of here, away from him.
She hadn't bargained on this. But instead of running, she called on all her reserves of control and even managed to smile as she held out her hand. He shook her hand, noting the absence of jewelry except for the plain gold hoops in her ears. He didn't like to see a woman's hands weighted down with rings on every finger, especially when the hands were as slim as hers.
He didn't release her as he repeated, "Are you all right? What could she say? That she'd been stunned by a sudden surge of lust for him?
It was the truth, but one that couldn't be voiced. She knew she should be charming to ease the awkwardness of this meeting, but somehow she couldn't summon up the superficial chatter to gloss things over. She could do nothing but stand there. They faced each other like gunfighters on a dirt street, oblivious to the eddies of people stepping around their small, immobile island.
He was watching her from beneath level brows, taking his time with his survey but keeping his thoughts hidden. Madelyn stood still, very aware of her femaleness as he looked her up and down with acutely masculine appraisal, though he revealed neither appreciation nor disapproval. His thoughts were very much his own, his face that of an intensely private man.
Even shadowed by his hat brim as they were, she could tell that his eyes were a dark greenblue-hazel color, shot through with white striations that made them gleam.
They were wrinkled at the outer corners from what must have been years of squinting into the sun, because he sure didn't look as if he'd gotten those lines from laughing.
His face was stern and unyielding, making her long to see how he'd look if he smiled, and wonder if he had ever been carefree. This man wasn't a stranger to rough times or hard work.
It was a long drive back to the ranch, and he was impatient to be on the way. Chores had to be done no matter how late he got back. His voice was a baritone, a bit gravelly.
Madelyn registered the rough texture of it even as she nodded toward the carry-on bag. Of course, she would impress him most without any wardrobe at all. He bent down to lift the carry-on, still keeping his hand on her arm. She was pure, walking provocation, totally unsuitable for ranch life, but every male hormone in him was clanging alert signals. It would be sort of a last fling before settling down with someone better prepared for the job, and job it would be.
Ranching was hard work, and Madelyn Patterson didn't look as if she had ever been exposed to the concept. Right now, though, he didn't mind, because she was so damn enticing and he was dead tired of the relentless months — years — of sixteen-hour days and back-breaking work.
He would take her out to eat tonight, after his chores were done; maybe they'd go to Jasper's for some dancing, and he'd hold her in his arms for a while, feel the softness of her skin, smell her perfume. Who knew, maybe when they went back to the ranch it wouldn't be to separate beds.
He'd have to be up front in telling her that she wasn't right for the job, so there wouldn't be any misunderstanding, but maybe it wouldn't make any difference to her. His hand naturally moved from her arm to her back as he led her out of the terminal. Deliberately he set about charming her, something he had once done with women as effortlessly as he had smiled. Those days were far in the past, but the touch remained. She chatted easily, thank God, asking questions about Montana, and he answered them just as easily, letting her relax and get comfortable with him, and all the while he studied her face and expressions.
Strictly speaking, she was merely pretty, but her face was lit by a liveliness that made her stunningly attractive. Her nose had a slight bump in it and was just a tiny bit crooked. A light dusting of freckles covered the bridge of it and scattered across her cheekbones, which were exquisitely chiseled.
World-class cheekbones, just like her legs. Her lips weren't full, but her mouth was wide and mobile, as if she were forever on the verge of smiling. Her eyes were the grayest eyes he'd ever seen. They were calm, sleepy eyes that nevertheless revealed on closer inspection an alert and often amused intelligence, though he didn't see what she found so amusing. If he'd met her before his rotten marriage and disastrous divorce, he would have gone after her like gangbusters, and gotten her, too, by God.
Just the thought of those legs wrapped around his waist brought him to instant, uncomfortable arousal. No way, though, would he let his gonads lead him into another unsuitable marriage. He knew what he wanted in a wife, and Madelyn wasn't it.
She didn't look as if she'd ever even seen a steer. None of that decreased his physical response to her one whit. He'd been attracted to a lot of women at first sight, but not like this, not like a slam in the gut. This wasn't just attraction, a mild word to describe a mild interest; this was strong and wrenching, flooding his body with heat, making him grow hard even though he sure as hell didn't want to here in the middle of the airport.
His hands actually hurt from wanting to touch her, to smooth over her breast and hip in a braille investigation of those sleek curves. He felt a twinge of regret that she was so out of place, so totally unsuitable for his purposes. Walking beside her, he saw the sidelong glances that other men were giving her. Women like her just naturally attracted male speculation, and he wished he could afford to keep her, but she was too expensive for him.
Reese was broke now, but at one time he had been accustomed to money; he knew how it looked and smelled and tasted, and how it fit. It fit Madelyn Patterson as perfectly as her silky skin did. She was slim and bright in her Paris-made suit, and the perfume sweetened by her warm flesh cost over two hundred dollars an ounce. He knew because it was one of his favorites. He couldn't even afford to keep her in perfume, much less clothes. Those terse little letters she'd written hadn't revealed much.
She made a face, wrinkling her nose. It's one of those jobs made for family. But her racing pulse told her that if he asked, she'd be packed and moved in with him so fast he'd think she owned her own moving company. He dismissed any riding she might have done. Recreational riding was a far cry from riding a workhorse, and that was what his horses were, trained and as valuable in their own way as a racehorse. It was just one more area where she didn't measure up.
They reached his truck, and he watched to see if she turned up her nose at it, as dusty and battered as it was. She didn't blink an eye, just stood to the side while he unlocked the door and placed her bag on the middle of the seat. Then he stepped back for her to get in. Madelyn tried to seat herself and found that she couldn't. An astonished expression crossed her face; then she began to laugh as she realized her skirt was too tight.
She couldn't lift her legs enough to climb up on the seat. Heat exploded through him, making him feel as if his entire body were expanding. The thought flashed through his mind that he wouldn't be able to stand it if she pulled that skirt up one more inch, and in the next split second his hands shot out, catching her around the waist and lifting her onto the seat.
She gave a startled little cry at his abrupt movement and grabbed his forearms to brace herself. His mouth was dry, and sweat beaded on his forehead. His pulse was throbbing through him. She had the best legs he'd ever seen, long and strong, with sleek muscles. She'd be able to lock them around him and hang on, no matter how wild the ride. Madelyn couldn't speak.
Tension stretched between them, heavy and dark. Fierce, open lust burned in his narrowed eyes, and she couldn't look away, caught in the silent intensity.
She was still gripping his forearms, and she felt the heat of his arms, the steely muscles bunched iron-hard under her fingers. Her heart lurched at the sharp realization that he felt some of the turmoil she had been feeling. She began babbling an apology. I didn't intend — that is, I didn't realize — " She stopped, because she couldn't come right out and say that she hadn't meant to arouse him.
No matter how she reacted to him, he was still essentially a stranger. He looked down at her legs, with the skirt still halfway up them, and his hands involuntarily tightened on her waist before he forced himself to release her. It's all right," he muttered. His voice was still hoarse. It wasn't all right. Every muscle in his body was tight. He stepped back before he could give in to the impulse to move forward instead, putting himself between her legs and opening them wider. All he would have to do would be to slide his hands under the skirt to push it up the rest of the way — He crushed the thought, because if he'd let himself finish it, his control would have shattered.
If you are, there's a cafe at the crossroads up ahead. She was used to enormous buildings, but suddenly they seemed puny in comparison with this endless expanse of earth and sky. It made her feel both insignificant and fresh, as if her life were just starting now.
It'll take us almost three hours to get there. She hadn't realized how much effort it was for him to come to Billings to meet her. Right now, it looked better than it had in a long time. He was still flat broke, but he could see daylight now. The banker had been pleased. Madelyn looked at him with concern darkening her gray eyes. I'm up before dawn every day. It must be wonderful. He could remember how spectacular the dawns were, but it had been a long while since he'd had the time to notice one.
I know for a fact that there are dawns in New York, too. I see sunsets, not dawns. The only dawn they would have in common would be the next day. She wasn't the woman he would choose for a wife. He reached into his shirt pocket and got out the pack of cigarettes that always resided there, shaking one free and drawing it the rest of the way out with his lips. As he dug in his jeans pocket for his lighter he heard her say incredulously, "You smoke! From the tone of her voice you would have thought she had caught him kicking puppies, or something else equally repulsive.
He lit the cigarette and blew smoke into the cab. Madelyn faced forward again. I just hate to see anyone smoking.
It's like playing Russian roulette with your life. It's my life. Great going, she thought. That's a good way to get to know someone, attack his personal habits. It just startled me. People smoke. Or don't you associate with anyone who smokes?
Some of our clients smoke, but none of my personal friends do. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, and she was very old-fashioned about the vices. I was taught never to swear, smoke or drink spirits.
I've never smoked," she said righteously. Despite his irritation, he found himself trying not to laugh. Her eyes twinkled at him. During my college days, I also swilled beer.
Not bad odds. Sometimes you bust, sometimes you break the house. Otherwise, Madelyn thought, why would she be sitting here in a pickup truck, in the process of falling in love with a stranger?
The paint on the house was badly chipped and peeling, and the outbuildings were even worse. Long ago he'd given up trying to keep the yard neat and had finally destroyed the flowerbeds that had once delineated the house, because they had been overrun with weeds. In the past seven years nothing new had been added, and nothing broken had been replaced, except for the absolute necessities.
Parts for the truck and tractor had come before house paint. Taking care of the herd had been more important than cutting the grass or weeding the flowerbeds. Sheer survival hadn't left time for the niceties of life. He'd done what he'd had to do, but that didn't mean he had to like the shape his home was in.
He hated for Madelyn to see it like this, when it had once been, if not a showplace, a house no woman would have been ashamed of. Madelyn saw the peeling paint, but dismissed it; after all, it wasn't anything that a little effort and several gallons of paint wouldn't fix. What caught her attention was the shaded porch, complete with swing, that wrapped all the way around the two-story house. Grandma Lily had had a porch like that, and a swing where they had whiled away many a lazy summer day to the accompaniment of the slow creak of the chains as they gently swayed.
He opened her door and put his hands on her waist, lifting her out of the truck before she could slide to the ground. Startled all over again, she quickly looked up at him. Her pulse began thudding again.
He reached inside the truck and hooked her carry-on bag with one hand, then took her arm with the other. She was struck by the fact that he felt safe in not locking his door when he was going to be gone all day. The back door opened into a combination mudroom and laundry. It makes the reader is easy to know the meaning of the contentof this book.
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