Had his ship finally come in?
For Christopher Trask, it was beginning to look that way. Though his professional life might be a shambles, his Valentine's Day family reunion on the high seas was looking most promising--especially once he met fellow passenger Larkin Hayes. The beautiful "it" girl was there to keep an eye on her often remarried father. But Christopher couldn't keep his eyes off her....
Larkin was suspicious of Christopher from the start--and her father falling for his aunt was certainly complicating matters! Still, a cruise ship wasn't real life...and Christopher could kiss her senseless. So what was the harm in a little holiday fun? Surely her common sense would return once she was back on dry land....
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January 31, 2009
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Excerpt from Always Valentine's Day by Kristin Hardy
Larkin Hayes looked across the glassed-in lido deck of theAlaskan Voyagerto Vancouver Bay beyond. When she'd left L.A. that morning, the mercury had been headed for the mid-nineties. Here in Vancouver, it hadn't even cracked sixty degrees.A snatch of theLosttheme song had her pulling her BlackBerry from her pocket."Hello?""I'm just leaving the airport," a voice said without preamble.Five years might have passed since she and her father had spoken regularly, but Carter Hayes seemed to have no doubt that she'd recognize his voice.And she did. She just couldn't believe what he was saying. "You're only now leaving the airport?""My flight got delayed in Tokyo.""You're aware the ship sails in a little over half an hour, right? We've already done the lifeboat drill.""I think I can find a lifeboat on my own.""The question is whether you're going to be able to find the ship in time." Then again, Carter had always been able to do just about anything he wantedexcept maybe make a marriage last."They won't sail without me," he said confidently."If you're lucky.""I'll be lucky."One corner of her mouth tugged up. Quintessentially Carter. What wasn't quintessentially Carter was booking fare on a commercial cruise line for their trip. He could have chartered a yacht; hell, he probably could have bought a few dozen of them.Except that cruising for a week or two on even the largest yacht would have left them with a few too many silences to fill.Across the way, a family had commandeered two tables and still spilled over the edges in a three-generational confusion of bodies and laughter. What would it be like to be a part of that kind of happy tangle of relations? she wondered enviously. Someone to joust with, someone to travel with. Someone else to try to talk some sense into Carter. Instead, she had a handful of disgruntled stepbrothers and sisters, all of whom wanted no part of the man they now loathed, except for maybe his money.Larkin shook her head. No point wasting time on pointless thinking. "Our first port of call is Juneau," she said. "You can always catch up with the ship there.""Forget Juneau. The cab driver tells me we're twenty minutes away. I'll be there.""In that case, you'll find me on the lido deck.""Good. Order a bottle of Clicquot. We'll drink to the future."To the future, Carter's favorite toast. Not surprising for a man who'd made the bulk of his fortune from futures trading.Larkin ended the call and walked through the doors that led outside onto the fantail, not sure whether she was amused or annoyed. Then again, Carter had that effect on people. He could be, by turns, infuriating, surprising, generous, charming, brilliant and astonishingly pigheaded. As a husband, he'd been a miserable failure in marriages two, three, four and, she assumed, five. As a father, he'd been like a football teamgood seasons and bad seasons.And, for the previous five years, off seasons.She pulled her duster-style coat more tightly around her to ward off the chill and shook her head. A trip to celebrate his sixtieth birthday, he'd said, but she'd recognized it for what it wasan olive branch. A fine idea, in theory. What she and Carter were going to do with one another for a week solid, though, heaven only knew.Staring at the islands across the bay, Larkin watched a floatplane as it dropped down from the sky and scudded along the waves. How did it feel to land on water the first time, on shifting waves instead of the solid concrete of a runway?Like finding out she was going to be living with a new stepmother. And another. And another."Stop right now!"The man's shout had Larkin whirling to see a small girl pelting out of the doors, glancing back over her shoulder and laughing. And then it seemed to happen in slow motion, the girl tripping, falling, pitching toward the deck with a yelp."Hey!" Reflexively, Larkin reached out t