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The Stranger She MarriedTHE STRANGER SHE MARRIED

Silhouette Special Edition #1498
Kane’s Crossing
October 2002
ISBN: 0373244983

They Were the Talk of the Town

Two years ago her elegant, horse-breeder husband, Matthew, had up and vanished, leaving Rachel Shane and her little girl prey to the scandalous whispers of Kane’s Crossing. Then, without warning, a dusty, slim-hipped cowboy named Matt sauntered onto her ranch, professing amnesia. He looked every inch an outlaw, every inch a temptation…

Matt vowed to claim what was rightfully his—his home, his family…his wife. But was he the husband who’d shattered Rachel’s dreams by disappearing…or a man who could seduce her hungry heart into welcoming him home?

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Excerpt from THE STRANGER SHE MARRIED

They faced each other on the dance floor, and Rachel knew he was feeling the same trepidation. They were afraid to touch each other again.

Heck, she thought. They had to come to terms at some point.

She assumed the dancing position, arms outstretched, one hand on his broad shoulder, the other clasped in his grip. Matt got the hint and settled his palm over her hip, his fingers lightly resting on the bare small of her back.

Rachel contained a shiver of desire, fighting the need to sidle closer to his soap-and-leather scent. “Shall we?” she asked.

The ballad “Sweet Dreams” stretched between their bodies, a living heat pulsing with longing and humidity-steamed tension. Rachel was careful to leave a safe space between them, careful to see that her hand didn’t relax and slide down his shoulder, careful to make sure she didn’t catch his gaze.

Because, surely, his eyes were going to talk her into something stupid.

She couldn’t get that close again. Absolutely not.

Even if the music and their polite contact made it seem as if there was nothing wrong, she couldn’t be fooled into letting down her guard.

Matt and Matthew are one and the same, she told herself. Don’t forget that.

His fingernails smoothed over the ridge of her exposed spine, tightening her breath, suffusing her with a fierce ache.

Casually, she straightened her posture while looking up at the night sky. Matt’s fingers pulled away at the tacit reprimand.

She said, “When I was a little girl, I used to lie on the grass, stargazing. The sky was never as endless as it is here, without city lights.”

“There’s something to be said about the country.”

Their pause grew thick with unspoken thoughts.

After a few musical beats, he broke the tension. “You seem sad when you talk about being a little girl.”

Rachel hadn’t realized that she’d talked about it that much. Was he remembering her tears when she’d end a phone call with her parents?

She tried to smile, tried to leave the wounds out of the equation. “Just dance,” she said.

When she caught his gaze, she could’ve smacked herself. A whip-lash quick snap of pain flashed across his eyes and then…nothing.

She’d shut him out again. But how could she help it?

He didn’t need to know about her family. All he needed was his own memory, so they could all move on to the next phase of life.

He lowered his voice. “Maybe you’ll talk about it later.”

Couldn’t he get the hint? She didn’t want to remember any of it.

But his concern warmed her, made her slip a little closer to falling for him again.

She grabbed on to a slice of reality. This wasn’t the man she’d married. The real Matthew was on his way, and he’d kick the new Matt—the good Matt—right out of her life.

Rachel held back a rush of grief, the scratch of something desperate and wrong tickling her throat.

“Just dance,” she repeated, wishing they could spend the rest of their lives swaying in silence to a slow song.

 

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From the book: The Stranger She Married
By: Crystal Green
Imprint and Series: Silhouette Special Edition
Publication Date: 10/02
ISBN: 0373244983
Copyright: 2002
By: Chris Marie Green
R and TM are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
For more romance information surf to: http://www.eHarlequin.com