The Lonely Hearts Club

Synopsis

Take three friends, add two ex-lovers and several new ones, then mix with more secrets than any of them know—and the result is a recipe for explosive rivalries and incendiary romance.

Adrian Oakes knows there are things in life that defy rational explanation—she has spent her life avoiding casual contact with others, because sometimes what she feels draws her into a world of dangerous attractions and dark desires.

Attorney Liz Ramsey thought she had everything—a devoted partner, a challenging job, and plans for a family in the making. Unfortunately, her life takes a turn, and she ends up alone and in the kind of trouble she never dreamed of. Then she bumps into—literally— young surgeon Reilly Danvers, and life gets even more complicated. Liz's two best friends offer all the support she needs, but they have secrets of their own. Candace Lory, a high-powered commodities trader and swinging playgirl, meets her match when she hooks up with corporate attorney, Parker Jones. Brenda Beal, the only member of the group who hasn't slept with every available woman, prefers to fantasize about a perfect lover, especially if she's obedient and willing to do anything Bren orders. A surprise birthday outing and a dashing, dark-eyed submissive transform Bren's fantasies into reality and her dark secrets into delicious pleasures.

The Lonely Hearts Club

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The Lonely Hearts Club

© 2008 By Radclyffe. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN 13: 978-1-60282-270-2

This  Electronic Book is published by

Bold Strokes Books, Inc.

P.O. Box
249

Valley Falls, New York
12185

First Edition: February 2008

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Credits

Editors: Editors: Ruth Sternglantz and J.B. Greystone

Production Design: J.B. Greystone

Cover Design By Sheri ([email protected])

By the Author

Romances

Innocent Hearts

Love’s Melody Lost

Love’s Tender Warriors

Tomorrow’s Promise

Love’s Masquerade

shadowland

Fated Love

Turn Back Time

Promising Hearts

When Dreams Tremble

The Lonely Hearts Club

Night Call

Secrets in the Stone

The Provincetown Tales

Safe Harbor

Beyond the Breakwater

Distant Shores, Silent Thunder

Storms of Change

Winds of Fortune

Honor Series

Above All, Honor

Honor Bound

Love & Honor

Honor Guards

Honor Reclaimed

Honor Under Siege

Word of Honor

Justice Series

A Matter of Trust (prequel)

Shield of Justice

In Pursuit of Justice

Justice in the Shadows

Justice Served

Justice For All

Erotic Interludes: Change of Pace

(A Short Story Collection)

Radical Encounters

(A Erotic Short Story Collection)

Stacia Seaman and Radclyffe, eds.

Erotic Interludes 2:
Stolen Moments

Erotic Interludes 3:
Lessons in Love

Erotic Interludes 4:
Extreme Passions

Erotic Interludes 5:
Road Games

Romantic Interludes 1:
Discovery

Acknowledgments

I’ve walked these halls, driven these streets, and even played softball on these fields. It was a joy for me to revisit these places in the company of old and new characters. As Always, it is my hope that you enjoy the journey, too.

My thanks go to my first readers Diane, Eva, Jane, Paula, and RB, as well as to my editors, Ruth Sternglantz and J.B. Greystone, and the generous proofreaders at Bold Strokes Books for making this a better book. All the credit goes to these dedicated individuals and the responsibility for any shortcomings to me.

Sheri was the soul of patience working on this cover, especially when I kept saying “could you just...” and the results, as always, far exceed my vision.

To Lee, for her never-ending belief in me.
Amo te.

Dedication

For Lee

Heart’s Desire

Chapter One

“Congratulations, Liz, you’re pregnant.”

Liz Ramsey clutched the edge of the examination table, causing the ridiculous paper gown to pull open. Exposed, she felt vulnerable and somehow a little bit out of control. She was never out of control, not in the courtroom or the bedroom or anywhere else. Except, of course, right at that moment she felt as if she might cry or laugh hysterically, and there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it. So much for her iron-clad control.

“Liz?” Dr. Marta Thompson asked, a frown replacing her pleased grin. “Are you okay?”

“Yes,” Liz said quickly, fashioning a smile that from years of practice she knew would appear genuine. When you spend your days in front of a jury needing to convey emotions you sometimes do not feel, you become adept at adjusting your facial expressions to almost any circumstance. And right now, she was in one of those free fall situations where the only thing she could do was put on a show of confidence and hope it was believable. “Of course. I’m…just surprised.”

“It’s not unusual for it to happen this way,” Marta said reassuringly. “I know we tell everyone that it may take two or three tries, but a goodly proportion of our mothers get pregnant right away.” Her smile returned and she clasped Liz’s arm. “You just got lucky, honey.”

“Lucky,” Liz echoed, her own smile still firmly in place. “Yes, I really did, didn’t I?”

*

Fifteen minutes later, armored in her power suit and heels, and once more in charge of her life, Liz barreled down the stairwell in the Silverstein Pavilion, too keyed up to wait for an elevator. What she needed was to find her anger. Anger was a very fulfilling emotion, and she had relied on it frequently in the last two months to shut out her hurt and confusion. She hit the door on the first floor stairwell at a dead run, executed a sharp right turn as soon as she stepped into the lobby, and smacked into a brick wall. At least, for the first few seconds it
felt
like a brick wall—until she heard a muffled oath, and the impediment to her forward motion gave way. Stumbling, Liz skidded to a halt and stared, stupidly, she feared, at the woman lying on the floor in front of her.

“Oh hell, I’m sorry,” Liz exclaimed, kneeling beside the prone figure. A glimpse of institutional green beneath the unbuttoned white lab coat spelled hospital employee. A quick glance to the left breast pocket revealed a plastic name tag. Reilly Danvers, MD. A fast survey of the face registered a shock of unruly dark hair tumbling over slightly unfocused gray eyes, and a wide, generous mouth open in stunned surprise. Liz held out her hand. “Dr. Danvers, please forgive me. Are you hurt?”

“Do I know you?” Reilly muttered, unable to decide whether to be pissed or to laugh. She hadn’t been dumped on her ass by a woman, or anyone else for that matter, since she’d stopped competitive sparring three years earlier. After her eyeballs stopped ricocheting around in their sockets and she was able to focus on the figure leaning over her, she decided that being pissed might not be the smart road to take. The woman who had knocked her flat was beautiful. Wavy, shoulder-length coppery-brown hair. The milky complexion of a classic redhead accompanied by deep green eyes. At the moment, those eyes were so sharply focused on Reilly’s face, so penetrating, that for an instant she thought the woman was reading her mind. Considering that her thoughts were about to veer in directions they hadn’t taken in a very
very
long time, that might be a bad idea. Realizing she was staring at a perfect stranger while sprawled on the floor, Reilly took the outstretched hand and pulled herself to a sitting position. Tentatively, she touched the back of her head and smothered a wince when her fingertips landed on a lump the size of a walnut.

“You’re hurt, aren’t you?”

“No,” Reilly said quickly, automatically. “I’m okay. Just surprised.”

“That seems to be the order of the day,” Liz muttered. “Listen, we’re creating a hazard in the middle of the hall. Let me help you up.”

Before she could protest, Reilly felt long, cool fingers thread through hers, and she followed the gentle tug until she was standing upright. Hands still linked, they both shifted toward the wall, out of the steady stream of hospital personnel and visitors crowding toward the elevators.

“Let me see your head,” Liz said, dropping Reilly’s hand, but not before registering the natural, almost familiar way Reilly’s fingers had closed around hers.

“I’m fine,” Reilly protested. “Believe me, I’m a doctor.”

“And of course, that means you’re never wrong,” Liz commented dryly.

“Not a fan, huh?”

“I’m a lawyer.”

“Ouch.”

Liz shook her head. “Sorry. I am a fan, actually. Well, at least most of the time. Turn around.”

Deciding that acquiescing was easier than arguing, Reilly pivoted. “How did you know my name?”

“Name tag. Stand still.”

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