Sky Full of Promise, страница 1
THE COLTONS: COMANCHE BLOOD
Discover a proud, passionate clan of men and women who will risk everything for love, family and honor.
Hurt by love before, she only agreed to play Dr. Dominic Rodriguez’s fiancée out of overwhelming guilt. Can she survive this time with her heart still intact?
Dr. Dominic Rodriguez:
The no-smiles surgeon doesn’t get close to people—he can’t afford to as a doctor. But Sky Colton makes him laugh—and feel things he never wanted to….
The truth is out that she was the real wife of Teddy Colton—making the Oklahoma Coltons his true heirs. But this scandalous secret could prove deadly!
His great-grandfather calls him the lone wolf—but he feels he has more important things to do than chase after women….
Sky Full of Promise
Books by Teresa Southwick
Wedding Rings and Baby Things #1209
The Bachelor’s Baby #1233
*A Vow, a Ring, a Baby Swing #1349
The Way to a Cowboy’s Heart #1383
*And Then He Kissed Me #1405
*With a Little T.L.C. #1421
The Acquired Bride #1474
*Secret Ingredient: Love #1495
*The Last Marchetti Bachelor #1513
**Crazy for Lovin’ You #1529
**This Kiss #1541
**If You Don’t Know By Now #1560
**What If We Fall in Love? #1572
Sky Full of Promise #1624
The Fortunes of Texas
is a native Californian who has lived there most of her life. Having lived with her husband of twenty-five-plus years and two handsome sons, she has been surrounded by heroes for a long time. Reading has been her passion since she was a girl. She couldn’t be more delighted that her dream of writing full-time has come true. Her favorite things include: holding a baby, the fragrance of jasmine, walks on the beach, the patter of rain on the roof and, above all, happy endings.
Teresa has also written historical romance novels under the same name.
“You don’t look like a home wrecker.”
The sound of the deep male voice turned Sky Colton quickly from the sales receipts she’d been totaling. She hadn’t heard anyone enter the store. Since Christmas the previous month, her high-end jewelry business in Black Arrow, Oklahoma, had been slow. Facing the tall, dark, handsome stranger, she wondered if sales were about to pick up. Along with her heartbeat.
Then his words registered. She folded her hands and rested them on the locked glass case containing her exclusive, original jewelry designs. “Home wrecker? If you’re not looking for a demolition company, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Right. And mermaids can do the splits.”
Sky studied him more closely. His worn black leather bomber jacket was at odds with the powder-blue, button-down collar shirt tucked into his jeans. She couldn’t help noticing his abdomen was washboard firm. No beer belly or love handles. His dark brown hair was cut conservatively short. It was the dead of winter, yet his olive skin made him look tanned. And she expected his eyes to be warm brown, like hot chocolate. They weren’t.
Instead they were dark blue and sizzling with anger. Why? What had she done to him? She’d never seen this man before. She was sure of it.
“I would remember you,” she said, then winced. Nothing like nourishing the ego of the man who was looking at her as if he wanted to stake her out on the nearest anthill. “If we’d ever met,” she added.
“It doesn’t take a mental giant to see you’re annoyed. Is there anything I can do for you?”
“Haven’t you already done enough?”
She straightened to her full five-feet-six-inch height, but that didn’t do much for her intimidation quotient. He had the advantage of another six inches and pretty much towered over her. Quite an attractive tower, she couldn’t help noticing. And if he weren’t so crabby, she might have been tempted to flirt.
“Look, Mr.—” She waited for him to supply a name, but he didn’t. She sighed. “The only thing I do is design and sell jewelry. I use Native American elements in my designs, which some people find mystical. But I’m not psychic. You’re going to have to give me more information if you expect me to undo any injustice you think I’ve done you.”
“I don’t think it. I know it.”
He reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out two black-velvet jewelry boxes, then set them on the glass counter. Curiouser and curiouser, she thought.
Sky picked one up and opened it, noting her business logo embossed on the lid’s satin lining. The ring inside was definitely her own design and one of her favorites. It was a gold band that she’d created for Shelby Parker, a wealthy oilman’s daughter from Midland, Texas. She’d become engaged during the holidays to a man she’d known a short time and her fiancé had wanted the wedding arranged quickly.
After hearing about Sky’s designs from a friend, she’d had her chauffeur drive her from Houston to Black Arrow to personally commission wedding bands. Her fiancé hadn’t had time to buy her an engagement ring or to accompany her to shop for this very important purchase. Shelby had returned several times, to make adjustments to the designs and talk about her ideas for bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts. Always, the chauffeur had driven her, making Sky wonder if she were as flaky as a soda cracker or just afraid to fly.
Sky remembered the young woman chattering away while she’d roughed out some ring sketches. Then again when they’d discussed changes to the designs, Shelby had wondered about using gold as opposed to silver or white gold, and possibly adding precious stones. Now Sky struggled to recall snippets of the conversations. Shelby had said her fiancé was a well-known Houston plastic surgeon. His name was—
She could only recall that Shelby had joked about calling him Dr. StoneHeart. Sky couldn’t remember his real name and opened the other box, plucking the large men’s ring from it. Subtly etched into the gold were the initials D.R. She had the most inane thought about the irony of his initials spelling out his profession. Then, she looked up from the ring in her hand to eyes growing angrier by the second if the darkening blue around his irises was anything to go by.
“Dr. Dominic Rodriguez,” she said. She held out her hand. “It’s nice to finally meet you. I’m Sky Colton.”
“I know,” he answered coolly.
“Shelby told me a lot about you.” Most of which she couldn’t remember.
“Interesting you associate your clients by pieces of jewelry.”
Sky didn’t much care for his tone. “I’ve seen enough medical dramas on TV to know that doctors identify their patients by symptoms or diagnosis. Frankly, my way is far more pleasant. Wouldn’t you agree?”
One corner of his mouth turned up, but that was her only indication that he was even the tiniest bit amused. “No.”
“My sincere and heartfelt congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Obviously you’re here because you’d like some changes on the rings. I can—”
“I’m here because there’
Sky blinked up at him. “No wedding? But I don’t understand. Have you and Shelby postponed—”
“I believe the words were quite clear. But let me rephrase. The wedding is off. Permanently,” he added for emphasis. “I received a bill for wedding bands. And for groomsmen gifts in progress.”
Sky stared at him, mortified that she couldn’t stop herself from noticing how dangerously sexy he was. She sensed in him a leashed intensity that could change to passion in a heartbeat. If provoked. Or maybe she was overdue for an appointment with a shrink. For goodness’ sake, the poor man had just been dumped. Or had he? Maybe he’d called it off.
Studying the tension in his jaw and the stiff set of his shoulders, added to the angry gaze and sarcastic tone, she decided she’d been right the first time. Definitely dumped. And he wasn’t the least bit happy about it.
For good reason. He’d practically been married. But “almost” wasn’t a done deal. Why should that please her even a little bit? Good question, for which she had no answer. Since her own broken engagement, she’d managed to get on with her life by scrapping her girlish fantasies of marriage, husband, children. Now her goal was to build an already fast-growing business. It was counterproductive to be attracted to this man. Technically he might be available, but emotionally he was still attached to someone who was no longer attached to him. While Sky might think the woman shortsighted, or even blind, maybe mentally impaired if not downright stupid, the fact remained, he was hurt and angry.
But what in the world happened? From what little she could recall of her conversations with the bride-to-be, Sky had the impression that Dr. StoneHeart was perfection personified. What had made her change her mind? Why had Shelby blown him off? Then Sky recalled the words that had alerted her to his presence when he’d walked in the shop. You don’t look like a home wrecker. What had he meant by that?
“Dr. Rodriguez, I have the impression you hold me responsible for something.”
“I do.” He laughed, a harsh sound and completely without humor. “Guess I won’t be saying that anytime soon. At least not in a church in front of a priest and witnesses.”
She held up her hands. “Let’s back up for a minute. You said the wedding is off. Why? What happened?”
“Don’t play dumb, Miss Colton.”
“I’m not playing anything, Dr. Rodriguez. I have no idea what’s going on. Would you care to enlighten me?”
“I’d like nothing better. Because of things you said, Shelby refused to marry me.”
“What I said?” Sky pressed a hand to her chest. “Look, Doctor, when she was here, I was working. We engaged in idle chitchat, not a bare-your-soul, heart-to-heart kind of conversation. I can’t imagine what I said that made her change her mind.”
Sky did. “She told me about you. That you’re a plastic surgeon. You help people feel better about themselves. That she was honored someone in such a noble profession would be interested in her. She had a lot to live up to. But she left out—” Sky stopped. She couldn’t believe what she’d almost blurted out. Shelby had neglected to mention her intended was a bona fide hottie.
“What?” he asked.
“Never mind. It’s not important.”
“I’ll be the judge of that. What were you going to say?”
Wild stallions couldn’t make her tell him. But considering the blue blaze in his eyes, she should come up with a substitute statement.
“She also mentioned that she calls you Dr. StoneHeart. Although based on your behavior since walking into my shop a few minutes ago, I can’t imagine why.”
One of his dark eyebrows rose, the only clue that her sarcasm had been noted. “I’m here to settle the bill for your services—including unsolicited advice you gave my ex-fiancée. What else did she tell you?”
“She talked about someone named Reilly Donovan.”
“Did she?” he asked, a gleam in his eyes that said he knew the name.
“Yes, I believe he’s the chauffeur,” she said, her eyes widening as her voice dropped dramatically on the last word. Uh-oh.
Things were coming back to her. She remembered a little more now. Shelby had also done some talking about the man who’d driven her here. About her intense, overpowering and completely unexpected attraction to the driver. There had been at least four long trips to Black Arrow, Oklahoma, from Houston, Texas. That was a lot of hours in the car—a really big, luxurious car. Lots of time to fill, to talk, to get to know each other intimately, to flirt, to generate doubts. But why did Dr. Perfect blame her?
“Now we’re getting somewhere,” he said. Leaning forward, he rested his elbows on the glass top of the case as his fingers laced together. “What about the chauffeur?”
Sky noticed his hands. Why in the world would she laser in on something like that when his voice was sharp enough to slice and dice an ice sculpture? But she couldn’t help it. He had nice hands, big with long, slender fingers. And strong-looking. And sensitive. The hands of a healer. And, she had a feeling, hands that would know a woman’s body and do all the right things in all the right places to elicit passion. The thought made her shiver.
Her only excuse for this behavior was that it had been a long time since Wes Keiler.
Sky met the doctor’s gaze, determined to maintain a cool, calm and collected facade even if it killed her. She’d bet the doctor knew some interesting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation techniques.
“Shelby said the chauffeur was handsome,” Sky volunteered.
“Now there’s a recommendation for a happy life together.”
“Don’t knock it. Sometimes appearance is our only means of forming an opinion.”
“It seems Shelby formed a really good one of Reilly Donovan. She ran off with him. Because of what you told her to do.”
“I already told you I didn’t tell her to do anything.”
Frantically, Sky thought back to the last time she’d seen the other woman. She remembered a sparkle in Shelby’s eyes and a flush in her cheeks. The few times they’d worked together, the young woman had always been impeccably groomed. Every hair in place, makeup perfect down to expertly lined lips with color and gloss. Sky envied that. She kept her black hair shoulder-length, in a cut that fell into place after a quick blow-dry.
Now that she thought about it, during their last appointment, Shelby had been slightly agitated, not to mention rumpled. As if a man had run his hands through her hair and kissed off her lipstick. Uh-oh.
“She wasn’t herself the last time I saw her,” Sky said carefully. “But I made small talk. About how lucky she was—”
“Apparently, Shelby’s luck took her in a different direction. It didn’t lead her to me.” There was bitterness in a tone already liberally laced with anger.
“Oh. Maybe she just got nervous. If you talk to her and reassure her—”
“She left me a note saying she couldn’t marry me, after all, and asked me to take care of canceling all the wedding plans. And this bill for the rings,” he finished, holding out a familiar receipt.
Sky took it from him and her gaze dropped to the figure on the bottom line. It was a lot of money, but the bands she’d created were lovely, and gosh darn it, they matched perfectly. The time and materials involved didn’t come cheap. Now what? Ordinarily she could take back the merchandise and resell it. This set was magnificent if she did say so herself and the profit from it would help in her goal to start another store—maybe in L.A., New York or Dallas.
Before she could respond, the door opened and a male customer entered. With the arrival of the jilted bridegroom, Sky had forgotten this appointment. She’d agreed to design an anniversary gift for his wife.
“I’ll be with you in a moment, Clay,” she said. Then she met the doctor’s gaze. “Look, I can’t discuss this right now. I have a previous engagement.”
“That makes two of us,” he said wryly. “But there’s nothing left to discuss. I just returned the merc
“We’re not finished. I need to give this matter some thought. Where can I reach you later?”
His eyes narrowed, but he said, “I’ll reach you.”
The next thing Sky knew he was gone. The tall, dark, handsome man was no longer a stranger. And she was destined to meet him again. She should have misgivings about it, but she didn’t. Which just proved that she was destined to be the subject of bad country and western songs: “Wanting Men Who Don’t Want Me” or “The Only Ring She’ll Get Is a Wring Around Her Neck.” Because there’d been nothing the least bit romantic or even positive about her encounter with Dominic Rodriguez, except that one small hint of a smile when she’d challenged him about knowing his patients by their ailments.
But for reasons she didn’t understand, she was looking forward to her next, probably last, and possibly explosive encounter with Dr. Dumped.
Shivering in the January wind, Dom waited on the sidewalk outside Sky’s the Limit Designs. It was located on Fourth and Main, just down the street from Black Arrow’s fire-damaged courthouse. She’d worked with the male customer who’d interrupted them until well past closing time.
From his car across the street, Dom had been able to clearly see through the windows as Sky had shown the man several pieces from her jewelry cases. Finally she’d pulled out a pad and made some drawings. The guy had left and she’d locked the door behind him, then put sheetlike coverings over the cases and did something with the cash register.
Dom had left his car and waited outside because—
He’d been on the outside looking in all his life? He shook his head at the ridiculous thought. Maybe as a kid, but not since making a name for himself as a doctor, a plastic surgeon who specialized in skin grafts and scar reduction for serious burn cases. Which didn’t give him immunity since he’d been burned by Shelby a few days before. Odd, but the thought brought less bitterness than he would have expected. Maybe there was good reason for his StoneHeart nickname. Or maybe meeting Sky Colton had blunted the bitterness.