Read A Moment in Time Online

Authors: Judith Gould

Tags: #Romance

A Moment in Time

 

An image of Storm Warning abruptly came into
her mind. She could see the stallion, panicked at first, rolling in
his stall, covered with sweat, scared for his life. And later,
after her gentle care, she could see the trusting look in his eyes.
She could still sense the bond that had formed between them, and it
made her feel good.

Then she remembered the shadowy figure she'd
seen while she'd been working on Storm Warning. Was it Conrad? she
wondered. And, if so, why the secrecy? For that matter, why hadn't
a single person hereabouts laid eyes on the mystery man since he'd
bought and renovated Stonelair?

She felt a sudden twinge in her stomach, an
uncomfortable feeling that she couldn't quite describe. All
thoughts of tonight's dinner and unpleasant office politics were
swept away, and she felt a new sense of uneasiness that she
couldn't explain. It was something about Stonelair, of that she was
certain, but what was it that had her so spooked?

 

Praise for the novels of Judith Gould

 

"[a}] page-turning plot and deliciously evil
villains. A delight." PUBLISHER"S WEEKLY

 

"A romp…a smash success!" NEWYORK DAILY NEWS

 

"Judith Gould is a master." KIRKUS REVIEWS

 

"Mouthwatering." CHICAGO TRIBUNE

 

"Plenty of shocking surprises." COSMOPOLITAN

 

"[a] great escape. A tale filled with suspense…and
exotic characters." BOOKLIST

 

Novels by Judith Gould

 

Sins

 

LOVEMAKERS - The Complete Unabridged Trilogy:

Texas Born

LoveMakers

Second Love

 

Meltemi (Greek Winds of Fury)*

 

DAZZLE- The Complete Unabridged Trilogy *:

Dazzle The Trilogy Vol. I: Senda

Dazzle The Trilogy Vol. II: Tamara

Dazzle The Trilogy Vol. III: Daliah

 

Never Too Rich*

Forever

Too Damn Rich *

Second Love

Till the End of Time

Rhapsody*

Time to Say Good-Bye

A Moment in Time*

The Best Is Yet to Come

The Greek Villa

The Parisian Affair *

Dreamboat*

The Secret Heiress*

 

 

*(Available as an e-book)

 

www.judithgould.com

 

 

Cover design by Judy Bullard at
[email protected]

 

 

A Moment in Time

A Novel of Romantic Suspense

By Judith Gould

 

Copyright 2001 by Judith Gould.

Published by Vesuvius Media at Smashwords

 

 

All rights reserved. Without limiting the
rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication
may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system
or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the
prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above
publisher of this book.

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights
under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or
transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written
permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of
this book.

 

Publisher's Note: This novel is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the
product of the author's imagination or are used ficticiously, and
any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales
is entirely coincidental.

 

To the memory of the late Marilyn Kimball
Austin of Palo Alto, California, a wife, a mother, an animal lover,
a reader, an inspiration, besides much more, and a lady in the best
sense of the word.

 

To Dr. Anina la Cour, of the Chathams Small
Animal Hospital in North Chatham, New York, a wonder among women,
whose devotion to the care of animals is exemplary and who, I
believe, truly has a magic touch.

 

To Marion Bienes of Amsterdam, the
Netherlands, whose heroic, courageous, fearless, and untiring
hands-on work on behalf of animals should serve as an inspiration
for us all.

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

The author wishes to thank the Bilinskis and
everyone else at the Chathams Small Animal Hospital, North Chatham,
New York, for their useful information and good cheer, and for
their loving care of the late Happy and the very much alive Mina,
Billy, and Jeffrey. In particular, I feel a debt of gratitude to
Dr. Anina la Cour, who helped Happy go in peace and who has
graciously shared bits of her considerable knowledge with me.

Please note that any mistakes regarding
veterinary medicine, animal behavior, or animal care are the
author's own, and are not the result of information I have been
given by any of the above.

The models for all of the animals in this
novel are pets of friends and have served as springboards for
characters; thankfully, they are all in the best of health.

 

 

Beauty and terror are inseparable.
They come from the same place.

 

 

—Herbert Muschamp

The New York Times

BOOK ONE

 

 

 

The Beauty

Chapter One

 

 

 

South Chatham, New York

 

 

Valerie looked out across the gray stone
terrace toward the hills in the distance, watching as the last
sliver of the summer's blood-orange sun slipped from view. The
clouds were tinged with beautiful violets and pinks, the palest
mauve and deepest orange. Valerie smiled to herself. The sunsets
from Apple Hill were nearly always spectacular, and tonight's
seemed even more so than usual.

She shifted slightly on the weathered teak
chaise longue and idly stretched a hand down to Elvis, her Heinz 57
Variety mutt, who lay half asleep at her side on the terrace. His
wide white collar set with aurora borealis rhinestones, a gift from
Tami, her secretary, gleamed in the fading light. She stroked his
jet-black coat, which was still wet from the swimming pool, and his
tail swished sideways once, then came to rest again.

"Hey, gorgeous," a man's deep baritone from
behind her asked, "what're you thinking about?"

Valerie felt Teddy's hands on her bare
shoulders, but her gaze remained on the distant hills. "I'm not
thinking about anything," she said. "I've just been watching the
sunset. It was so beautiful."

He squeezed her shoulders softly, then leaned
down and brushed her cheek with a kiss. "Just like you," he said.
"In fact, I arranged it for you." His voice was a croon, full of
promise and possibilities for the night that lay ahead.

"I wouldn't doubt that one little bit,"
Valerie said. And, she reflected, it was true. She sometimes
thought that Teddy de Mornay was capable of anything once he set
his mind to it. Aside from the fact that he was terribly handsome
and had money to burn, he was personable, charming, and extremely
popular. There didn't seem to be a man—or woman—for miles around
that didn't admire Teddy de Mornay.

She turned to look up at him. "Where've you
been?" she asked, noticing that, although he had dried off, he was
still in his bathing trunks, his bronzed body tall, its musculature
well-defined throughout his lean physique. His blond hair was
lighter than usual, sun-bleached almost white in places, and his
pale blue eyes gleamed against his tan.

"I was in the kitchen," he said, "mixing us
some drinks. Hattie's almost done with dinner."

"I guess we'd better get changed, then,"
Valerie said, reluctant to move from the comfort of the chaise
longue.

"Unless you want to eat in your bikini,"
Teddy replied. He smiled lasciviously, exposing his perfect white
teeth.

"I had some food in mind," she said,
playfully slapping him on the leg. "Anyway, we'd better put
something on. It's already started to get cooler." She sat up on
the chaise and looked at him. "And where are those drinks you mixed
for us?" she asked.

"In the conservatory," he said, squatting
down beside her. He leaned over and kissed her on the tip of her
nose. "Ready and waiting."

"Let's get changed," she said. "It'll only
take me a couple of minutes to shower off and put something
on."

Teddy rose to his feet and extended a hand to
her. She took it and let him pull her up, off the chaise. She
picked up her rubber thongs and grabbed her towel.

Elvis immediately perked up and slowly got to
his feet, then shook his wet fur furiously.

"Race you to the pool house," Valerie said.
And before Teddy could answer her, she slipped from his grasp and
was off, running across the gray stones of the terrace to the
rose-covered pergola that decorated the front of the pool house.
Elvis raced along behind her as fast as his old legs would carry
him, barking joyfully.

Teddy padded along behind, watching her
graceful barefooted lope appreciatively.
She's like a rare,
beautiful gazelle
, he thought with satisfaction.
I couldn't
have made a better choice.

When he reached the pool house, she had
already taken one of the bathrooms, its door open wide, her
emerald-green bikini tossed carelessly across a sink, her towel on
the tile floor. From the shower came her voice. It was almost a
yodel actually, for she was bellowing a rendition of "You Ain't
Nothin' But a Hound Dog." Elvis, on his haunches, his head lifted
to the ceiling, sat outside the shower howling along with her.

Teddy stood still, listening to the raucous
cacophony. On the way to the pool house he'd thought about joining
her for a little predinner fun, but now he decided against it.

She and Elvis are enjoying themselves too
much
, he thought,
and besides, I want tonight to be very
special for her. One night that she'll never forget.

He walked to the bathroom at the other end of
the pool house.
So I'll hold off till later.

He pulled off his bathing trunks, feeling
foolishly proud of himself for this uncharacteristic show of
restraint.

This isn't like me at all,
he thought.
No, siree. Because when Teddy wants it, Teddy really wants it.
And when he really wants it, he gets it.

With that thought, he stepped into the
Mexican- tiled shower stall, closed the thick glass door, and
twirled the water on, lathering up, excited at the prospect of the
night ahead.

 

 

Valerie poured herself a martini from the
silver cocktail shaker that sat perspiring on the marble-topped
drinks table in the conservatory. She tossed four olives in, then a
fifth for good measure. It was the gin-soaked olives that she liked
best about a martini. Holding the crystal glass up to the light,
she admired its sparkling radiance a moment before taking a
cautious sip.

"Manna from heaven," she cooed to
herself.

She walked over to one of the big,
comfortable, down-filled sofas and sat, enjoying the feel of its
crisp white duck against her silk pants and blouse as she sank into
its luxurious softness. She set the martini glass down on the
coffee table, and stretched her arms above her head, breathing
deeply.

She'd had a long, hard week at the veterinary
clinic, and the late afternoon swim and the hot sun, followed by a
revitalizing shower, had worked their magic: She felt calm,
relaxed, even a bit serene. Although she was on call at the clinic
this weekend, she didn't anticipate any problems. She'd quickly
scanned the patient roster before she'd left the clinic and hadn't
noticed any animals that might present her with serious
problems.

But you never know
, she reminded
herself, reaching over and picking up her drink. What she did know,
and very well at that, was that you could plan endlessly, trying to
anticipate every need, every problem that might arise. Then when
you thought you had everything covered, a dire emergency would
strike.

Well, I'm not going to think about it
tonight
, she told herself
. I'm going to relax and enjoy
myself.

"Aha," Teddy exclaimed when he walked into
the room. "I see you've been a very naughty girl and started
without me."

She looked up and saw that he'd put on
spotless, perfectly ironed white linen trousers and an
appropriately faded blue knit polo shirt that was the precise color
of his eyes. Somehow he always managed to look perfect. Almost too
perfect.

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