“Ah.” Gabe straightened. “You made friends quickly. Willow’s usually much more cautious in her dealings with strangers.”
“She’s a sweetie. You’ve done a great job of bringing her up. It can’t have been easy for either of you—I mean, for a man to bring up a little girl, and for a little girl to grow up without her mother. Willow told me…” Caprice’s voice trailed away as she saw Gabe stiffen.
His eyes had become hard, his lips tightly compressed. Caprice felt the air positively vibrate with tension. She had apparently said the wrong thing, but before she could even open her mouth to murmur sorry, he very pointedly—very rudely—tilted up his forearm and stared at his watch….
Grace Green grew up in Scotland, but later immigrated to Canada with her husband and children. They settled in “Beautiful Super Natural B.C.” and Grace now lives in a house just minutes from ocean, beaches, mountains and rain forest. She makes no secret of her favorite occupation—her bumper sticker reads, I’d Rather Be Writing Romance! Grace also enjoys walking the seawall, gardening, getting together with other authors…and watching her characters come to life, because she knows that once they do, they will take over and write her stories for her.
Grace Green loves to write deeply emotional stories with compelling characters. She’s also a great believer in creating happy-ever-after endings that are certain to bring a tear to your eye!
Forever Wife and Mother
For Carolyn and Jan Willem
WHY had he lied to her?
Caprice Kincaid stood at the study window, tears misting her eyes as she watched three black limos sweep the last lingering mourners from Lockhart House. Never had she felt so lost, so alone…so bewildered. She had trusted her father all her life; it pained her heart now to know he had deceived her.
She desperately wanted to ask him why…but it was too late. He was gone. Forever gone. And she was left to wonder what deep dark secret he had been hiding—
“Excuse me, Mrs. Kincaid.”
Blinking back her tears, she turned to see her father’s lawyer, Michael Duggan, in the doorway.
“Michael.” With a pale smile, she waved the bearded, heavyset man forward. “Thanks for waiting.” The heels of her black pumps spiked into the plush bronze carpet as she crossed to her father’s rosewood desk.
“You said you had something to show me.”
Caprice slid open the desk’s top drawer—the drawer she’d unlocked for the first time last night, with the tiny key she’d found in her father’s wallet. Her fingers shook as she withdrew the sheet of age-yellowed paper—but she steadied them and quickly closed the drawer as the lawyer walked over to join her.
“As I told you the other day,” he offered in a reassuring tone, “your father’s will is straightforward. He has left all his assets to you, as his only surviving relative. You are now one very wealthy young lady….”
Caprice handed him the paper. “This is my father’s birth certificate.” A swath of her long ash-blond hair slid over her cheek; abstractedly she looped it behind her ear. “Dad always led me to believe he’d been born in New York. Why would he have lied to me?”
The lawyer frowned. “According to this, he was born in Washington State. That is a surprise!”
“To you, too?”
“Well, yeah…I had the impression he was born in New York. I know that’s where he met your mother—and I know they moved here to Chicago before you were born. But this place in Washington State…Hidden Valley. Your father owns some riverside property there—yours now, of course.”
“What kind of property?”
“A log house. Modest place, with a bit of acreage.”
“But his investments were all in apartment buildings, weren’t they?”
“Except for this house. Holly Cottage.”
“Is it rented out?”
“Not at the moment, but over the past more than twenty years your father donated it for the summer months to a Seattle charity group called Break Away. They used it as a retreat for women who for one reason or another badly needed a holiday—a break—from problems in their lives.”
“I had no idea….”
“After his second heart attack last fall, your father indicated to Break Away that Holly Cottage would no longer be available to them. He was planning to sell all his holdings—and he did divest himself of all the apartment buildings—but he never got around to putting the log house up for sale. Something seemed to be holding him back.” He returned the birth certificate to Caprice. “I don’t know what it was.”
“I should like to find out.”
“I’ll make inquiries—”
“Thank you, Michael, but this is something I want to do myself. I’ll come into the office on Monday to attend to the paperwork we discussed, and next day I’ll fly out to Seattle. I’ve looked up Hidden Valley on the map—it’s a couple of hours’ drive from the city. I’ll rent a car at the airport.”
“You’ll stay at Holly Cottage?”
“It’ll be habitable?”
“Oh, sure, a caretaker looks after it.”
“Then yes, I’ll stay there.”
“For how long?”
“For as long as it takes.” Caprice’s ebony silk blouse clung to her ribs as she drew in a deep breath. “Can you get me a key?”
“No problem. Come to think of it,” the lawyer added as he prepared to leave, “it may not be a bad idea for you to take off for a while, have a vacation in the country. You’ve been under a lot of pressure over the past couple of years with your dad’s failing health….”
Caprice waited till after Michael Duggan had gone before she opened the drawer again and withdrew the only other item she