The Top Gun's Return. Kathleen Creighton

The Top Gun's Return - Kathleen Creighton

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      “My God,” he whispered. “You look just the same.”

      His fingers walked across her shoulder blades, drawing her hesitantly closer as though he feared at any second she might vanish in a puff of smoke. He folded her into his arms, as if he’d never be able to get enough of her.

      He held her carefully, almost reverently at first, then closer…harder, and buried his face in her hair. The breath she’d been holding burst from her in a sob. She no longer had to worry about her trembling; it wasn’t possible to tell where hers left off and his began.

      She had no way of knowing how long they stood there like that. It occurred to her that it was like a refuge, that silence…the closeness, a safe place neither of them wanted to leave.

      But they must leave it, of course. And confront what had happened to them and what lay ahead….

      Dear Reader,

      The year may be coming to a close, but the excitement never flags here at Silhouette Intimate Moments. We’ve got four—yes, four—fabulous miniseries for you this month, starting with Carla Cassidy’s CHEROKEE CORNERS and Trace Evidence, featuring a hero who’s a crime scene investigator and now has to investigate the secrets of his own heart. Kathleen Creighton continues STARRS OF THE WEST with The Top Gun’s Return. Tristan Bauer had been declared dead, but now he was back—and very much alive, as he walked back into true love Jessie Bauer’s life. Maggie Price begins LINE OF DUTY with Sure Bet and a sham marriage between two undercover officers that suddenly starts feeling extremely real. And don’t miss Nowhere To Hide, the first in RaeAnne Thayne’s trilogy THE SEARCHERS. An on-the-run single mom finds love with the FBI agent next door, but there are still secrets to uncover at book’s end.

      We’ve also got two terrific stand-alone titles, starting with Laurey Bright’s Dangerous Waters. Treasure hunting and a shared legacy provide the catalyst for the attraction of two opposites in an irresistible South Pacific setting. Finally, Jill Limber reveals Secrets of an Old Flame in a sexy, suspenseful reunion romance.

      Enjoy—and look for more excitement next year, right here in Silhouette Intimate Moments.



      Leslie J. Wainger

      Executive Editor

      The Top Gun’s Return

      Kathleen Creighton


      MILLS & BOON

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      has roots deep in the California soil but has relocated to South Carolina. As a child, she enjoyed listening to old timers’ tales, and her fascination with the past only deepened as she grew older. Today, she says she is interested in everything—art, music, gardening, zoology, anthropology and history—but people are at the top of her list. She also has a lifelong passion for writing, and now combines her two loves in romance novels.

      To Gail Chasan, my editor and champion

       for I’m-not-even-going-to-tell-you-how-many years.

       How did I get so lucky?



      Chapter 1

      Chapter 2

      Chapter 3

      Chapter 4

      Chapter 5

      Chapter 6

      Chapter 7

      Chapter 8

      Chapter 9

      Chapter 10

      Chapter 11

      Chapter 12

      Chapter 13

      Chapter 14

      Chapter 15

      Chapter 16



      Sammi June stared at the shadows on her ceiling cast by the soccer-ball-shaped night-light beside her bed. Under the covers her knee stung and throbbed where she’d picked the scab off it too soon, and she thought about that while tears tickled their way down the sides of her face and ran into her ears. The tears came from the achy, lonely place inside her, but if she concentrated hard enough she could make herself believe that her skinned knee was to blame for that, too.

      Stupid knee. She’d had skinned knees before. It was no big deal. Except, why did it have to happen now?

      Tomorrow was supposed to be her big day. She was so excited she couldn’t fall sleep. It was the most important part, and the teacher had picked her, the new kid. The new kid—wasn’t she always? New place, new school, new friends. She’d wanted so much for them to like her, to be amazed at how smart she was, and how pretty. She even had a dress to wear—a pink one, brand-new, Momma had bought it for her last week at J.C. Penny—and new shoes to go with it, and socks with lace around the tops. And now it was all going to be ruined, because of a stupid skinned knee. It was going to show, and look ugly and tacky, and everyone would think she was just a tomboy hick from Georgia.

      I wish my daddy was here. If Daddy was here, I wouldn’t care if I have a skinned knee. Daddy would find a way to make it be all right.

      Sammi June sniffed and wiped her cheeks with her hands, then listened to the darkness as hard as she could. She thought sometimes if she listened hard enough she could make herself hear the sounds she wanted so badly to hear: the front door opening, footsteps on the stairs, Momma’s voice, trying to whisper but bubbling brightly with happiness. Daddy’s voice whispering back, low and gruff and growly.

      After a moment she pushed back the covers and got out of bed and walked over to the window. In the daytime in this new place, there wasn’t much to see from the bedroom window except for other people’s houses. But at night, if she knelt down and pressed her face close to the glass and looked up…way up…just above the rooftop of the house next door, she could see it. One star, all by itself, so big and bright it didn’t seem real. But it was real; Momma said so. She said it was the Evening Star, the one everyone sings to you about when you’re real little: “Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are….” Momma said if you make a wish on the Evening Star it will come true, and there was a poem for that, too.

      Kneeling on the hard floor—on one knee, because the skinned one was sore—Sammi June closed her eyes and whispered the poem:

      “Starlight, star bright,

      First star I’ve seen tonight,

      I wish I may I wish I might

      Have the wish I wish tonight.”

      Then, staring at the Evening Star until

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