The iceman cometh....
Hotel mogul Eben Spencer had learned long ago to keep his eye on the ball and his emotions under wraps. And where had this philosophy got him so far? In business, to the pinnacle of success. And in his personal life, it had brought him one beloved, if unhappy, little girl, and one shattered marriage. And he was not about to embark on another one anytime soon....
But then he met Sage Benedetto. The bewitching nature girl was everything Eben was not--warm, emotional, open--and everything he'd never dreamed he'd want. But lately he was having very different dreams....
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October 01, 2007
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Excerpt from The Daddy Makeover by RaeAnne Thayne
On a scale of one to ten, Sage Benedetto would probably rate the concept of jogging before sunrise every day somewhere around a negative twenty.
While she highly doubted she would ever evolve enough that she could wholly enjoy these runs, after a month, she had at least grown to tolerate the activity. Her gut didn't automatically cramp at just the idea of throwing on her running shoes and her muscles no longer started to spasm after the first few steps.
She supposed that was a good thing.
This would probably never be her favorite thing to do, but she had promised, she reminded herself. And while she had many faults--all of which somehow seemed more glaringly obvious in the pale light of early morning--breaking her word was not among them.
Despite the random muscle aches and her inherent dislike of just about any activity that involved sending her heart rate into heavy exertion mode, she had even come to discover an ethereal beauty in these quiet early-morning runs.
The towering sea stacks offshore glowed pink in the first, hesitant rays of the sun; this wide, gorgeous stretch of Oregon beach was empty, at least for a little while longer.
Soon the beach would be crowded with treasure hunters looking for shells or colored glass or any other gift the sea surrendered during the night. But for now it was hers.
Hers and Conan's, anyway.
A huge red beast emerged from behind a cluster of rocks and shuffled to her, scaring up a seagull.
She sighed. This was the reason she was here before sunrise, her thigh muscles burning and her breath sawing raggedly. This rangy, melancholy creature was her responsibility, her curse, her unexpected legacy.
"There you are. You can't keep slipping off your leash or we won't do this anymore."
Abigail's big mutt, rescued from the pound right around the time Abigail rescued Sage, cocked his head and gazed at Sage out of doleful eyes the murky dark green of the sea in a November storm.
Some days these jogs along the shore seemed to lift his spirits--the only reason she carried on with them when she would much rather be home in bed for another hour.
This apparently wouldn't be one of those days. "I know," she murmured, rubbing his chin as she slipped the leash back on. "She loved these kind of mornings, didn't she? With the air clear and cool and sweet and the day just waiting to explode with possibilities. Anything-can-happen days, that's what she called them."
Conan whined a little and lowered himself to the sand, his head sagging to his forepaws as if he were entirely too exhausted to move.
"You've got to snap out of it, bud. We both do." She tried to swallow down the lump of grief that had taken up permanent residence in her throat during the past month. Her eyes burned and she wondered when these raw moments of sorrow would stop taking her by surprise.
She blinked away the tears. "Come on, dude. I'll race you home."
He gave her a long, considering look, then heaved to his feet and shuffled off in the direction of Brambleberry House, still a mile down the beach. Even at his most ponderous pace, Conan could outrun her. A pretty sad state of affairs, she decided, and tried to pick up her speed.
Focusing on the sand in front of her, she had only made it a few hundred yards down the beach, when she heard a sharp bark. She turned in the direction of the sound; Conan was at the end of his long retractable leash, sitting with a small figure above the high-tide mark in the sand.
The figure was a young girl, one she wasn't even sure was old enough to be considered a tween. A young girl who was wearing only a pale green nightgown and what looked to be seashell-pink flip-flops on her feet.
To Sage's deep surprise, Conan's tail wagged and he nudged at the girl's hand in a blatant invitation to pet him. She hadn't seen Conan greet anyone with this kind of friendly enthusiasm for the better part of a month.
Sage scanned the beach looking in vain for the girl's companion. She checked her watch and saw it was barely 6:00 a.m. What on earth was a young girl doing out here alone on an empty stretch of beach at such an hour, and in nightclothes at that?
"Morning," she called out.
The girl waved. "Is this your dog?" she called to Sage with a big smile. "She's so pretty!"
Conan would just love being called pretty. When he wasn't grieving and morose, the beast had more prickly pride than a hedgehog with an attitude. "She's a he. And, yeah, I guess you could say he's mine."
Partly hers, anyway. Technically, she shared custody of the dog and ownership of Brambleberry House. But she wasn't about to let thoughts of Anna Galvez ruin one of Abigail's anything-can-happen days.