Authors: Again the Magic
Again the Magic by Lee Damon
SHE AWOKE TO A NEW PASSION, YET WAS STILL AFRAID TO LOVE....
Kitt Tate tried to shut out the memory of her marriage, but always the nightmare returned. She thought she could never love again, never trust another man, as long as the memories remained. Here in her isolated Maine bookshop she was independent, on the road to a new life. Until Michael O'Mara returned from the distant past, before the marriage, the pain...
The look in his eyes set her aflame, almost made her believe she could recapture the old, wild ecstasy, until she remembered—and froze.
It was much too soon: the passionate longing, the crippling fear. But O'Mara vowed to help her, to fill her arms, haunt her dreams, to reawaken Kitt's love. To show her again the tenderness, again the desire... again the magic.
THE TERRIBLE WALL OF RESISTANCE...
"You didn't panic when I put my arm around you when we were coming home tonight, Kitt, and you're not only not panicking right now, you're being downright provocative."
"You know I wasn't deliberately—"
"That's the point. You were following your instincts. You wanted to touch me, so you did. I could see it in your face; you were leaning back with your eyes closed and a hint of a smile, enjoying the feel of me under your hands. Not only were you not trying to arouse me, it didn't even enter your head that you might be doing so.
"How do you know—"
"It's exactly the way I feel about you, love. I want to touch you." He stroked one hand slowly up her arm under the wide sleeve of her caftan. "I want to feel your skin under my hands and the shape of your body pressing against mine. I want to excite you and feel the heat rising in you and know that it's all there for me." His voice had become a hoarse whisper, his eyes again darkened to indigo.
Her breathing had shortened and her heartbeat quickened as he talked love to her.... Mesmerized by the dark heat of his eyes, she nevertheless felt a cold, hard knot of incipient fear in her center....
POCKET BOOKS, a Simon & Schuster division of
GULF & WESTERN CORPORATION
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10020
Copyright © 1982 by Jane H. Look
Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10020
First Pocket Books printing August, 1982
Printed in the U.S.A.
It was an unusually balmy day for the second Sunday in April, especially for the south coast of Maine, with clear, almost Wedgwood-blue sky, bright sun, a comfortable ocean breeze and the bracing scent of salt air. The busy tourist season was still two months away, and the small town of Kennebunkport was peacefully lazing through the quiet spring afternoon. At least, most of it was. On one stretch of Ocean Avenue, not far from Dock Square, the tranquility was somewhat disrupted by the sounds of laughter and a cacophony of voices, ranging from a deep male roar to a girl's high-pitched squeal.
"Quiet down, everyone, and pay attention. We're going to have a toast—to Kittredge Arlen Tate, new owner and moving spirit of the River Port Bookshop!"
To a male chorus of "Hear, hear!" and "Right on!" and a feminine cry of "Whoopee!," Ez Tate lifted his can of beer, barely visible in his big fist, in salute to the tall, handsome woman who was half-sitting, half-leaning against the wide railing around the second-floor deck. She laughed and bowed from the waist, first to the huge man who was grinning back at her and then to the two young men and the blonde girl lolling on an antique church bench.
"I thank you, one and..." Kitt's voice trailed off as a ululating "Aaroorooroo" interrupted her.
Three heads turned as one, and the young people on the bench stared in wide-eyed astonishment at the copper and white dog perched on the cushioned seat of a captain's chair. Familiar with such reactions, Kitt and Ez exchanged amused glances and chuckled. The dog cocked his head at them, pointed ears pricked forward deepening the wrinkles across his forehead, and then lifted his nose toward the sky and yodeled.
At the young people's incredulous expressions, Ez bellowed with laughter, sending half a dozen seagulls shrieking into the air. Kitt, still chuckling, moved over to the dog and rubbed him behind the ears with strong fingers.
"He's an African Basenji," she explained, raising her voice to be heard above Ez and the seagulls. "Their larynxes are shaped almost like a human being's, and they can't bark. But they do 'talk,' yodel, chortle, howl like banshees and, with great effort, sometimes manage a 'woof.'"
With amusement threading his deep voice, Ez added, "And he sits in chairs because he thinks he's people, except for the times when he thinks he's a cat!" Ez stepped over to stand beside Kitt, resting a brawny arm across her shoulders and teasing, "Actually, I think he's her familiar. You wouldn't believe what a witch she can be sometimes!"
Kitt laughed up at him, shaking a finger under his nose. "You be nice, Ez Tate, or I'll turn you into a toad and give you to Hero to play with!"
Charley, the brawny young man at the far end of the bench, suddenly leaned forward, his eyes shifting intently between Kitt and Ez. "Hey, you're twins! Peter, Midge, look at them! Now that they're standing together, it's plain as a pike."
Seen side by side in the bright light of the afternoon sun, it was quite obvious that Kitt and Ez Tate were twins. They had the same deep chestnut, thickly waved hair. His brushed the collar of his denim shirt, while hers tumbled to just below her shoulders. The sun brought out gold highlights in their dark hair and gilded their matching long, thick lashes. They both had wide, high cheekbones, straight noses and firm chins, the features larger and heavier-boned on Ez. His chin had a cleft; Kitt's was dimpled. Kitt's mouth was a bit wider, the lower lip fuller and softer, than his. Their most startling feature was their eyes—long, smoky blue-gray ovals, deep set and tilting up at the outer corners under well-defined brows. Those exotic eyes had caused much speculation over the years, and eager searching of the charts by the family's genealogy buffs. So far, nobody had found a clue as to how these descendants of a solid Scots-English line had ended up with eyes from southern Russia!
When Kitt and Ez were apart, their twinship was not as apparent. Ez's face was usually relaxed in an expression of easy good humor and interest in people and the world around him. He looked younger than his almost thirty years, whereas
Kitt not only looked her age, but showed signs of having struggled through some of those years. There were faint lines of strain between her brows and at the corners of her eyes and mouth. In repose, her face often had a pensive look, with shadows of remembered pain in the smoky eyes. However, over the past months her expression had gradually lightened as the sense of fun and zest for life of her earlier years had slowly returned and strengthened.
"You're right," Ez said, "and being a twin develops the old ESP. Mine is loudly screaming that everybody's hungry after all this work, so let's get cleaned up and find someplace to eat. Since you're natives, I'll depend on you to lead me to a large steak!"
Motioning to Charley and Peter to bring the bench, Ez tipped Hero off the chair and carried it inside.
"You guys can wash up at the kitchen sink. Midge and I will share the bathroom," Kitt said. "And lead us, please, to a
steak. That," she continued as she whacked Ez across his midriff with the flat of her hand, "takes a lot of filling."
For such a big man, Ez moved remarkably fast. He grabbed Kitt's wrist with one hand, swung her around and then let her go as his other hand, with beautiful coordination, connected smartly with the seat of her tight-fitting jeans. Kitt yelped and spun around to stalk him as Ez backed, grinning, toward the kitchen.
"Now, now, there's no time for horsing around, Sis. And I'm so weak from hunger, you just might get the best of me. That would be a terrible blow to my ego."
Ez felt the edge of the low breakfast bar against the back of his thighs and sat down, quickly swinging his long legs over the counter to stand up in the kitchen. Still chuckling, he turned on the hot water faucet over the sink and started scrubbing his hands. Peter and Charley crossed the living room to join him, going around the breakfast bar rather than over it.
Midge and Kitt headed down the short hall toward the bathroom, Kitt yelling over her shoulder, "I concede. In physical confrontations with you, you big ape, it's a no-contest every time! Right, Midge?"
She glanced down at the much shorter girl, thinking with amusement of her first sight of Midge.
Kitt and Ez had arrived in Kennebunkport early that Sunday morning, driving their loaded vehicles into the graveled parking area in front of the bookshop. While Kitt unlocked and looked around both the first-floor shop and the upstairs living quarters, Ez loped back up Ocean Avenue toward Dock Square to find a source of coffee and food-to-go-
A bear of a man at six feet three, broad in the shoulders and chest, solid but lean through waist and hips, with long, strongly muscled legs, Ez looked like—and had been—a star half-back on his college football team. His easy, long-striding lope took him out of sight around the corner before Kitt had time to open the wide blue door to the bookshop.
Half an hour later, she was just returning to the car after settling Hero in the shop, when she heard laughing male voices almost drowning out female cries of "Put me down!"; "Dammit, I can walk by myself!"; "When I get loose, you big bully, you'll be sorry!"
Kitt stared, in mixed exasperation and amusement, at the group appearing around the corner from the square. Flanked by two laughing men, some ten years younger and a few inches and pounds smaller than himself, Ez strode briskly along the road, apparently unaffected by the violent squirming and kicking of the yelling girl draped under his right arm.
Roaring with laughter, Ez crossed the parking lot and swung the girl upright, setting her gently on her feet in front of Kitt. He quickly clapped his big hand over the top of her curly blonde head and held her off at arm's length as she indignantly tried to kick his shins. It was rather like a toy poodle attacking a mastiff. The girl was a diminutive pixie with big brown eyes in a pert face, her small but shapely figure dressed in jeans and a heavy turtleneck sweater.
"Here, now, stop before you dent a toe." Ez chuckled. "My shins are a lot harder than your sneakers. Just calm down and meet my sister, Kitt. Kitt, this pepperpot is Midge. She's the answer to your need for part-time and summer help."
Midge stood stock still, head tilted back, gazing up in wonder at Kitt. It was a long way up. Midge was all of five feet tall, while Kitt's normal height of five feet nine was increased at the moment to nearly five eleven by the heels of her leather boots. The two young men beside Ez were eyeing with interest Kitt's seemingly endless legs and slim hips, emphasized by her snug jeans, and obviously wishing they could get a better view of the long, supple waist and rather small but firm and nicely rounded breasts just hinted at under the loose fisherman's knit sweater.
Ez introduced Charley and Peter, explaining that he had met them and Midge at the restaurant in the square. "They kindly volunteered to help unload the pickup and trailer and carry the furniture upstairs. Midge mentioned looking for a job, so I hired her for you. She was a little reluctant to take my word, so I brought her along to meet you."
Kitt gave them a rueful grin, saying, "I can just imagine how much 'volunteering' you guys did! Ez is a past master at dragooning people into things they had no intention of doing."
She turned to the bemused Midge with a sympathetic smile, "I apologize for the caveman tactics." She leaned down, her voice dropping to a loud whisper easily overheard by the unrepentant Ez as she confided, "He's still got a strong streak of juvenile high spirits and tends to revert to ten years old on weekends. Would you believe he's a college professor in, of all things, medieval history, during the rest of the week?"
She straightened up and stood, hands on hips, gazing down thoughtfully at the younger girl. Midge, who had regained her composure, shot a look of total disbelief at Ez, and then returned Kitt's regard with one of interested speculation.
"If you really are looking for help, I'd like to apply. I'm just finishing my last year at the University of Southern Maine up in Gorham." She looked inquiringly at Kitt and asked, "Do you know of it?"
"Sorry, no," Kitt answered. "What have you majored in?"
"English. I'd really love to work in a bookshop, and I do need a job from now until at least the end of the summer. Gorham's a few miles outside Portland, about forty minutes' drive from here, and I commute, so I could work part time until classes finish in the middle of May and then work full time through the summer."
"Good enough," Kitt said decisively. "We'll settle the details later. Now, if you three lunks will get the heavy stuff unloaded, Midge and I will cope with the rest." Trailed by the younger girl, Kitt headed for her Camaro, asking over her shoulder, "Do you have another name? I assume 'Midge' is short for 'Midget,' for obvious reasons."