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Authors: Barbara Delinsky

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary

Rekindled

REKINDLED [065-066-4.9]

By: BARBARA DELINSKY

SYNOPSIS:

We are calling this two-book volume Rekindled because each story tells of a relationship that is, indeed, reborn. In the case of Flip Side of Yesterday, the story opens with Chloe and Ross meeting again for the first time, eleven years after a brief affair. In the case of Lilac Awakening, the relationship between strangers, Anne and Mitch, is renewed each month with repeated visits to a secluded Vermont cabin.

Harper collins 10 East 53rd Street, New York, N.Y 10022-5299

This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

ISBN 0-7394-00681

Cover photo: 0 1998 by James Randkiey

A previous edition of Flip Side of Yesterday was published in 1983 by Silhouette Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. A previous edition of Lilac Awaken was published in 1982 by Dell Publishing (Co., Inc

Printed in the United States of America

Letter from BARBARA DELINSKY

Dear Reader, This volume contains two of my early books. Lilac Awakening was originally published in 1982, Flip Side of Yesterday in 1983. Both have been out of print for years. This is their very first reissue.

These books were initially written as romances, with the primary focus on the love story. That hasn’t changed in this volume. The plots are exactly as they were in the original versions. I have, however, slightly edited these books to reflect the growth in my writing style that has occurred since their first publication.

We are calling this two-book volume Rekindled because each story tells of a relationship that is, indeed, reborn. In the case of Flip Side of Yesterday, the story opens with Chloe and Ross meeting again for the first time, eleven years after a brief affair. In the case of Lilac Awakening, the relationship between strangers, Anne and Mitch, is renewed each month with repeated visits to a secluded Vermont cabin. Since neither book is as long as my current books are, my publisher agreed to put the two together and thereby enhance both your reading and your fiscal pleasure.

I do love these books and sincerely hope you will, too!

My best always, Barbara Delinsky

CONTENTS

Flip Side of Yesterday 1

Lilac Awakening 105

Flip Side of Yesterday

The evening breeze was gentle, softly whispering as the long-legged vision in white whisked across the dusky lawn, her dark hair streaming behind her, and ran lithely up the broad stone steps.

“Chloe! There you are. I was beginning to worry.” A man stepped from beneath the deep brick overhang and fell into easy step beside her as they passed through a large oak door into the high school and headed down a long corridor.

“I’m sorry, Howard,” she said, meaning it. Howard Wolschinski was the state senator who had first sought her services. After three meetings, she had come to like him. “I’d hoped to be on the road by four, but, I swear, there was a conspiracy against me. First the phone, then my car.”

“Anything major with either?” he asked.

“No on both counts. But I didn’t clear Little Compton until five, and by that time the rush-hour traffic was horrid. I drove as fast as I could. I hope I haven’t messed things up.”

“You haven’t. The meeting was called for seven thirty. You’re only five minutes late. It’s given the crowd a chance to settle down.” He guided her around a corner with a light hand at her elbow and began the climb as soon as they reached a staircase.

At the first landing, Chloe asked, “How’s the turnout?”

He grinned sheepishly. “I only wish we did half as well at political rallies. This is a welcome change from apathy. The auditorium is packed. There must be several hundred people in there.”

Chloe was surprised and decidedly pleased. “Several hundred? Not bad for a county meeting in New Hampshire.” She smiled, lowering her voice dramatically. “But which side are they on? Are they for us or agin’ us?”

Her humor drifted unanswered into the stale schoolhouse air as Howard ushered her into the meeting hall, led her onto the stage, and ges tured her into a seat. He took one by her side. As though on cue, the crowd silenced and the moderator began.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said in a voice made flat by its broad New England slant, “on behalf of my friends and, uh”-he cast an encompassing glance backward, then turned a cough into a snicker, bringing chuckit’s from the audience@’adversaries here on the stage with me, I would like to thank you for coming tonight. It’s a rare pleasure to see so many of you gathered at once. We realized that the issue of the Rye Beach Resort and Condominium Complex would stir a few of you to action, but we had no idea how many. I don’t believe we’ve had a response like this since that talk of a state prison here a while back.”

Chloe was wondering who the man was when Howard whispered, “He’s Felix Hart-town manager, commissioner of public safety, President of the United States in his dreams.”

She smiled at the quip. Nodding her thanks for the information, she refocused on the speaker.

and they listened to us then, just as they listened to us when they mentioned a hazardous waste disposal center six miles from us. And before that, there was the matter of a state sales tax…”

The monologue went on, freeing Chloe for several seconds more. Bending forward, she drew a notebook from her bag and prepared to make notes on the opposition’s points. That opposition sat to her left, occupying two chairs on the far side of the one vacated by the moderator. Her peripheral vision took in two men, one significantly taller and darker than the other. They would be the state representative in favor of the complex and the owner of the development company. Chloe knew neither of their names, a situation that was about to be remedied.

“As for the others here tonight,” the moderator said, “let me begin with Howard Wolschinski. You all know Howard, our distinguished state senator.” He gestured from Howard to Chloe. “Chloe Macdaniel, geological consultant and one of the founding partners of Earth Science Education, Inc., out of Little Compton, Rhode Island.” His hand went toward the other side of the stage. “Bradbury Huff, your state representative”-she jotted the name in her notebook@’and finally, the president of the Hansen Corporation, Ross Stephenson…Chloe stopped writing mid-stroke. Ross Stephenson? Ross Stephenson? She would never forget that name. Heart pounding, she glanced at the fourth member of the panel. He was the taller, darker one. Was it the same Ross Stephenson? This man was nattily dressed and impeccably groomed. The Ross she had known had been bearded and wore faded jeans, high boots, and a peasant shirt of Indian cotton. Eleven years had passed. He might have changed. How could she know?

His eyes. They were the same memorable amber. Eleven years ago they had cut through all pretense and snagged her in the space of a breath. They were just as striking now-and they were looking at her. He knew.

As all else faded, she felt shock, remembrance, pain. Then she tore her eyes from his and lowered them to her paper. Ross Stephenson. Unbelievable.

“Are you all right?” Howard whispered, seeming to sense her distress.

She contemplated lying. The society belle of New Orleans would have done that. But today’s Chloe was too honest. She whispered back, “I knew him-Ross-a long time ago. I never expected to see him here.” Or again, for that matter, she added silently, struggling to keep her thoughts from racing back in time.

“He shakes you up?”

She smiled ruefully. “He shakes me up.”

“Will you be able to go on and speak?”

She took a deep breath. “I’ll be fine once we get going.” Unfortunately, Felix Hart continued to talk, gesticulating more emphatically than ever. “He’s been sidetracked on the background of your pal. Listen.”

Chloe had no choice.

“As many of you know,” Felix drawled with an air of self-importance, “Mr. Stephenson has been behind the building of two successful mall complexes here in the Granite State. His company has left its mark from coast to coast in factories, libraries, educational facilities, and office buildings. The reputation of the Hansen Corporation precedes him here. It is with great honor that I present to you, for an explanation of his plans and hopes for the Rye Beach Complex, Mr. Ross Stephenson.”

Chloe’s heart was hammering again. When it was momentarily drowned out by the applause of the crowd, she dared another glance at Ross. Again, he was looking at her. She held her breath, barraged by memories that gathered and surged. A slow pallor spread beneath her ivory skin. She was thinking that she had to get out of there fast, when he finally faced forward, pushed himself from his chair, and approached the dais.

“Whew,” came a whisper by her ear. “That was some greeting.”

Chloe felt the color rush back to her face. She realized her misunderstanding when Howard went on. “Felix introduced him like he was a visiting dignitary instead of the man whose blueprints we plan to tear apart.”

“Please keep reminding me,” Chloe murmured, to which the senator chuckled. Then they both settled back to listen to Ross Stephenson’s presentation.

For Chloe, listening was an awesome challenge. The sight of him standing straight and tall before the microphone was a distraction in and of it self. She couldn’t help but admire the breadth of his shoulders and the slow tapering of his frame toward narrow hips and long, lean legs. To her chagrin, she couldn’t help but remember the skin beneath, firm and drawn taut over the muscles of shoulder, chest, and arms, its dark matting of hair a cushion for her head, a playground for her fingers.

She forced those fingers to work now, making notes of words that she barely heard, that her mind could barely assimilate. Still she made herself concentrate, jotting down thoughts with increasing rapidity in an attempt to keep her mind on the present and off the past.

But was it the past that brought her head up again and her gaze back to Ross? Was she intrigued for old times’ sake alone? His dark hair was thick but well-trimmed and combed into as much submission as she guessed it would go. Eleven years ago it had been longer and even thicker. With the beard, he was like a bear-large, overpowering, dominant, but cuddly. Now there was a refinement to him, a control in his stance, a purposefulness. Addressing his audience, he conveyed competence and intelligence.

And that audience was enrapt, some nodding, others shaking their heads, all measuring his words with the keen interest that had brought them out on this mild September night.

His voice was deep and resonant as it flowed through the mike and filled the room. “The benefit to your community would be multifold. We’re proposing to use a parcel of land that is presently underused. The resort will attract guests who will patronize local businesses. Food outlets, entertainment houses, restaurants, real estate establishments-all stand to gain from the Rye Beach Complex. The condominium complex will bring untold tax revenue both to state and local purses. Given the easy access to this area by the federal highway system, the condominium units will be in high demand year round.”

Chloe found herself listening closely, wondering how this could be the same man who had once chosen to live on a communal farm in Kentucky. That free-spirited Ross was a far cry from this entrepreneurial one. Trying to reconcile the two was impossible.

Howard leaned close. “He’s a powerful speaker. What do you think?

Will he have them sold before we even present our side?”

She answered without taking her eyes from Ross. “Lord, I hope not. I often work with groups of shoreline residents. They feel strongly about the land, which is their finest resource. I’ll be appealing for the preservation of that resource.”

“You’re a powerful speaker yourself, Chloe. I heard you address that group on Martha’s Vineyard on the subject of natural erosion patterns. You had them eating out of the palm of your hand.”

Chloe gave a crooked smile. “Many of the issues are the same here.

Let’s hope they buy it, too.”

Ross finished his formal presentation and opened the floor for questions. A podium and microphone had been set up in the center aisle of the auditorium. One by one, those residents with questions came forward. Most asked about specifics, all of which Chloe noted on her pad: the price range of the condominiums and the subsequent tax revenue; the time projection for the erection of the units; the capacity of the resort complex; and a listing of its self-contained facilities. At length, Felix Hart stood and joined Ross at center stage.

“I’m afraid we have to move on now,” he apologized, eyeing the large clock on the front face of the balcony. “There’s still another side to consider. Thank you, Mr. Stephenson. You’ve been very direct and a great help. Perhaps we’ll have time for more questions later.”

Chloe watched with growing excitement as Ross returned to his seat and that excitement, for the moment, had nothing to do with him. She liked talking to groups like this, and did it often. Though she loved the scientific end of her job-the sample-taking and analysis, the computer work, the intricate calculations of ground composition, weather-related components, time predictions-she found the presentation of her findings to be heady.

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