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Authors: Heather Graham

For All of Her Life

BOOK: For All of Her Life
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For All of Her Life
Heather Graham

To Diana Violette and Rita Astrella, who will always be lovely, charming intelligent women—ageless!

Contents

Prologue

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-one

Epilogue

A Biography of Heather Graham

Prologue

H
E STOOD IN THE
darkness, staring out the window, wondering at the tension that seemed to riddle him. A soft breeze slightly lifted the sheer white underdrapes that framed the sliding glass windows to the balcony of his second-floor bedroom. He could see out over the pool, on to the water, and to his far left, the guest house. All lay beneath a strange, tropical moon. Blood red tonight, perhaps a portent for rain. The breeze, as well, seemed to promise a storm. It was late summer when the weather could be hotter than hell, when the humidity seemed to weigh down upon the earth’s surface like a wet blanket. Maybe that was why he felt so restless.

Where was she?

Broodingly, he kept his eyes trained on the night. Nothing stirred beyond the window. A far different scene from that which had taken place earlier. Just hours ago, the pool and patio had been alive with music, laughter, voices. Chinese lanterns had cast a colorful glow over the assortment of guests: press agents with their nasal accents, Californians with easy drawls, Midwesterners twanging away. Here and there something Southern had slipped into the conversation, and many sentences had been pieced together with Spanish words or phrases inserted here or there.

The laughter and gaiety had all been on the surface. Tension had lurked beneath. It had been building. Layer upon layer. Maybe it had been there a very long time, a slow growth at first, heightened by the trouble in France last August, smoothed over, yet the roots remaining. To him, that tension had seethed beneath the surface of the party tonight like a palpable, living, breathing creature.

Was it just him? Had the others simply enjoyed the party, with no feeling that they were headed for disaster? Was he too self-righteous, too demanding a taskmaster?

It brought him back to the same question he had asked himself already.

Where was she?

He started to move, restless still, ready to pace the room. But something kept him where he stood, staring out at the silent night, now bathed in the eerily red glow of the strangely tinted moon.

For all outer appearances, he should have been a happy man, secure, content. He had achieved professional success, acquired an admirable income, wed a beautiful woman, fathered two beautiful daughters. Things hadn’t come easily; he had worked hard, they had worked hard. But he’d loved the work, loved it still. Loved the music, the words, the sound of a perfectly tuned piano, the melody of a flute, the warmth of a guitar—his favorite instrument, one that could perform gently, passionately, tenderly...or grind out a refrain, screech into heavy metal. He loved it all still. Music, at its best and at its worst, was somehow honest. Unlike people, unlike appearances.

When had the doubt settled in?

Appearances were what others saw. Fabric knit together upon the top. Yet beneath, too often, the threads were coming unfrayed. Sometimes, he wanted the picture. What might be seen in a black and white glossy. Before people became three dimensional. With thoughts they couldn’t always voice, with secrets they were too ashamed to share.

Move away from the window, he told himself. Forget the night, forget the fears. Live with the black and white glossy, and don’t question what lies beneath.

No good. He wasn’t a man who could ever live with lies.

So what was going on?

A cloud swept in with the breeze. Not a heavy cloud, not one that completely darkened the sky. But it added to the strange and surreal glow that was cast down upon the earth by the reddened moon. Everything seemed bathed in dark and secretive, deep crimson shadow.

Then he saw her.

How strange. She was as much a part of his life as if she were actually a limb, a skein of yarn knit into his creation. They’d known one another almost forever. They’d dreamed together, seen dreams come true, fantasies turn to reality. He’d fallen in love with a girl, when they’d both been in the sometimes painful and confusing—but exquisite—bloom of youth. They’d grown, they’d aged. A beautiful girl had become an elegant woman. Confusion for them both had often become conviction. They’d changed; sometimes together, sometimes apart. He knew her face, her half-smiles, her full smiles. Her frowns, worried and anxious. He knew the nuances of her face, each and every one of them, the sound of her laughter, the glistening in her eyes when she’d refuse to shed tears. He knew her better than anyone on earth.

But did one human being ever really know another? Know everything that played within the heart and soul?

Did he know her now?

He couldn’t see the face he knew so well. She was as surreal as the night, a figure clad in flowing white, long dark hair made redder, touched by the blood on the moon. She seemed incredibly graceful, moving with the flow of the breeze, part of it, feet barely seeming to touch the ground.

She came from the back patio below. She was swiftly gliding toward the guest house.

She ran through the blood red shadows, around the night-tinted crystal of the pool. Finally, she disappeared down the tiled path to the guest house, and into the shadows of the croton and hibiscus surrounding it.

What the hell was she doing?
He’d kill her when he got his hands on her. He braced himself, leaning against the wall for a moment, feeling the tension in his limbs, anger knotting the muscles in his arms and fists. He stayed there as seconds ticked into minutes, fighting for control, knowing damned well that he would confront them both. The tension had been building, growing. He had seethed tonight, even if it had only seethed within him. She’d claimed innocence before, and he swore now that he wouldn’t blindly believe evil in those he loved, but by God, he would have the truth.

Yet even as he turned back to the window, still furious but with the steel grip of reason upon his anger, the night shifted. As he stared toward the guest house, he became aware of a startling new streak of red in the night. Combined with gold, it silently leapt and flared into the night

The guest house was on fire, he realized incredulously. As swiftly as the knowledge entered his mind, there came a sudden explosion as if something highly combustible within the small dwelling, caught by the flames, burst within them and above them in a shower of sparks.

He shouted hoarsely, not certain of his words or to whom he spoke. Horror and fear tightened around his throat, nearly paralyzed him. He’d just been thinking about killing her. He’d die if anything happened to her.

Yet he had seen her go into the building that was now a wall of flames.

The night itself seemed to be burning.

He raced from his room, shouting now articulately, demanding that someone dial 911. He tore down the stairs, out of the house, and across the back patio, racing for the guest house which was fully ablaze. Flames shot out before him, no longer just red and gold, tinged with the strange cool blue of excruciating heat. That heat scorched his skin, his brows, his hair, yet he came closer to it. He had to get into the guest house. Had to reach her.

Hands fell upon him, shaking him, dragging at him. He heard his name shouted. He turned. Frightened, anxious amber eyes met his. The heat all but engulfed them both as he looked down into those eyes.

“Jordan!”

She was tugging at his arm. Tears streaked down her face.
“Jordan!”

There was another explosion from within. Instinctively, he clutched her shoulders and propelled them both as far from the fire as possible, helped by the force of the blast. They landed hard, buffered only somewhat by the fact that they hit dirt and grass rather than the concrete and tile of the patio.

Sirens pierced the air. Shouts began to break the night, now completely dyed in shades of blood red flame. Shaking, he stared down into those amber eyes.

He’d wanted to kill her. He’d been so angry, so damned ready for a confrontation.

Yet now, he could only be excruciatingly grateful that she was alive. That the smell of burning flesh that swept around them did not come from her mortal remains...

She cried out his name again, her eyes glazed with tears and confusion, the word tremulous on her lips. Because they were both alive, and there was tragedy within the guest house. He wrapped his arms around her, once again, just so very grateful. He didn’t realize then that special bonds had been burned to cinders along with the guest house, or that trust had died along with the friend inside. He didn’t think about the others who then peopled his house, he just took those few sweet moments to revel in life.

The doubts would come later...

One

N
EARLY TEN YEARS LATER...

It was strange, the way life could move along according to a set of coincidental circumstances. She hadn’t been thinking about the past at all, just thrusting an old volume back into the bookcase when the album suddenly seemed to fall as if pushed out by some unseen force. The bookcase was just too jammed, that was all, but all the same it seemed strange when that album fell.

She didn’t want to open it at first. It had been nearly ten years since she had seen him, since she had changed her own life so radically, and yet the pain remained. Something nostalgic, something so strong, it hurt all over again.
It had been right, the breakup had been right. They hadn’t been good for one another anymore.
It didn’t matter. Being right just didn’t ease that awful, annoying, creeping pain that could still sweep over her, just upon occasion, just when she was taken off guard. Like now. When the stinking album had jumped from the shelves, and into her hands.

The damned pages flew open on their own—she was quite certain she hadn’t touched them. Nor did she remember sitting on purpose, going through them. First page, there he was. They must have been fourteen, building sandcastles on the beach. He was already acquiring that long, lean, yet well-muscled, build which was to become part of the legendary man. The photograph was black and white; somehow, she could still see the cool lime green color of his eyes, the sun-streaked sandy shade of his hair. And that face. Firm chin, high cheekbones, strong as the chin, handsomely configured. His face hadn’t changed. Well, she didn’t think it had. Oh, hell, she knew it hadn’t, no matter how she lied. She had seen him often enough in magazine pages and the occasional “live” appearance when he was caught by a television camera going in or out of a restaurant, a theater, or the like.

She flipped a page. There she was with Jordan, at the junior prom on one side, at the senior prom on the other. She ran a finger along the side of the picture, almost as if she could touch the past by doing so, go back a bit. They had been beautiful then, both of them. Jordan so tall and handsome, she with her deep auburn hair swept up, her amber eyes aglow like fire with excitement. She flipped another page. There they were with the group. She and Jordan and the others. Larry Haley, with his mile-long blond hair, good-looking hair at that; Shelley Thompson, already a petite but elegant beauty with wide eyes and golden hair; Keith Duncan, dark, handsome, brooding; Miles Reeves, freckled and redheaded; and Derrick Flanaghan, tall, broad-shouldered, becoming a big man. And Derrick’s wife, Judy, was there. Judy had never played an instrument or sung a single note, but she’d been with them all forever. Their hardest and best critic. Tall, slim, no-nonsense Judy. She lacked any kind of musical talent but she recognized someone with potential in a flash and she kept them looking at the
realistic
picture at all times, reminding them that bills had to be paid no matter what.

BOOK: For All of Her Life
11.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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