Deadly Intent. Valerie Parv
“If I thought going to bed with you would get you out of my system I’d say yes.”
“You know better,” Ryan growled, unable to stay silent.
Lifting her head, Judy gave him a troubled look. “I know. But neither am I prepared to marry you. I’m not prepared to marry anyone. It isn’t personal.”
“The hell it isn’t. Whatever you need or want, tell me and I’ll make sure you have it.”
“What I want is to stay single.”
“What you want?”
She heard the disbelief in his tone. “All right, what I need. If you truly feel about me the way you claim, you’ll try to understand.”
“I’ll never understand,” he stated. “And I will do everything in my power to change your mind.”
With twenty million copies of her books sold, including three Waldenbooks bestsellers, it’s no wonder Valerie Parv is known as Australia’s queen of romance and is the recognized media spokesperson for all things romantic. Valerie is married to her own romantic hero, Paul, a former crocodile hunter in Australia’s tropical north.
These days he’s a cartoonist and the two live in the country’s capital city of Canberra, where both are volunteer zoo guides, sharing their love of animals with visitors from all over the world. Valerie continues to write her page-turning novels because they affirm her belief in love and happy endings. As she says, “Love gives you wings, romance helps you fly.” Keep up with Valerie’s latest releases at www.silromanceauthors.com.
Ryan liked seeing her in a dress, Judy Logan thought as she held the garment against her and checked the bedroom mirror. He would appreciate the way the sea-foam color complemented the sky blue of her eyes and the highlights she’d had put through her ash-blond hair, newly cut in an urchin style with strands feathered around her face.
He’d approve of the way the garment’s draping neckline made the most of her long neck and modest cleavage, the slinky short skirt skimming her legs. Privately, she thought they were her best feature, shapely and muscular thanks to an active lifestyle.
Seeing herself as more Australian stock horse than thoroughbred, she usually threw on whatever suited her schedule, not much caring about the result.
Realizing what she was doing, she flung the dress onto the bed, where it pooled innocently. Why did she care what Ryan thought of her appearance? He was only one of the boys her father and mother had fostered throughout most of Judy’s life.
After she was born, they’d been unable to have more children although they’d desperately wanted a large family. Her father still treated her like fragile china, although these days he was the frail one with a heart that threatened to stop beating at any moment.
She frowned at her mirror image. Des Logan was the reason she was going out with Ryan tonight. Not on a date, but to decide how best they could help her father. Des wouldn’t accept money, not that Ryan had much to offer. Of all the Logan foster sons, he was the least successful. He supported himself doing casual jobs on cattle stations throughout the Kimberley. Nothing wrong with that, but by Ryan’s age most men had something more substantial going for them.
If Judy hadn’t run across Ryan unexpectedly when she flew supplies to a remote Kimberly cattle station where he’d been working, he would still be estranged from them all. He hadn’t wanted to live with the Logans in the first place, she recalled. He’d claimed he was doing fine looking after himself. According to him, losing his mother and having no idea where his father was didn’t mean he needed help to run his life.
At the memory, Judy felt reluctant admiration sweep through her. As a boy he’d lived on his own for almost a year after his mother’s death, convincing the authorities that a friend of hers was his caregiver when, in fact, he’d had nobody. When the truth came out, he’d been dragged literally kicking and screaming into the Logan household.
Then he and Judy had spotted each other. Like a wild buffalo transfixed by a car’s headlights, he’d stopped fighting Des and stared at his new foster sister.
He’d looked her up and down with the insolence of a grown man. Too thin from eating whatever he could rustle up, he’d been lanky and awkward, but his eyes—how she remembered those midnight blue eyes—had been alight with masculine interest. She’d known he liked what he saw long before he’d told her he was in love with her and would marry her one day.
A shiver shook her. What had such a stripling known of love? She’d known even less. Oh, she’d been aware of the facts of life. You couldn’t grow up on a million-acre cattle station and remain ignorant for long. But the chemistry between male and female had been a compelling mystery.
Nevertheless, they’d both felt its power. But with him being only fourteen then and her newly into her teens, she hadn’t had a clue what her feelings signified or how to deal with them. Des Logan had solved the problem by calling Ryan into his study and ordering him to get any foolish ideas out of his head. Ryan had retorted that nobody told him how to run his life and he was going to marry Judy one day, with or without Des’s approval.
Neither of them had been aware of Judy hunting for a tennis ball in the bushes under Des’s office window. To her, it had seemed romantic to have a young man defy her father over her. These days, she knew Des had been right. They had been mere children, their feelings the result of overactive teenage hormones, nothing more.
Less than a year later, Ryan had run away, eluding Des’s and the authorities’ efforts to find him. Later Ryan told Judy that he’d lied about his age in order to get work as a jackeroo on remote cattle stations.
He hadn’t stayed anywhere for long, she’d learned when they’d met again. She hadn’t been able to tell if he was pleased to see her or not. His manner had been surly and distant, although he was obviously a world away from the difficult teenager she’d once known.
For one thing, he was all man. Taller, fuller in body and so broad-shouldered she’d had to look twice to assure herself he really was Ryan Smith. His red-gold hair and hair-trigger temper had convinced her. There couldn’t be two men with that blend of startling good looks and fiery temperament in the Kimberley.
Since their reunion three years before, she’d persuaded him to return to Diamond Downs a number of times, although he’d never stayed as long as she’d hoped he would. She looked forward to his visits, but no more than those of her other foster brothers, she assured herself. She blamed the fact that Ryan’s arrival made her heart beat faster on his dynamic personality and raw masculinity, enough to turn any woman on.
Judy wasn’t immune to male appeal. She relished her physicality,