Read The Diva Diaries Online

Authors: Karen Anders

Tags: #Romance

The Diva Diaries

“Ever done it in the hay?” Sam whispered

Cupping Jenna's face in his hands, he lowered his lips, teasing and tempting her with wispy, nipping bites. Her breathing quickened when his tongue snaked out and touched her mouth. What he tasted was rich, dark, forbidden.

Jenna's knees buckled and he caught her around the waist, holding her against his hard body. “Now, darlin'?” he murmured. “How about now?”

She didn't have time to respond as his mouth closed over hers. It was a shock to her that hunger could be so luscious. That it could taste so sweet. And then he stopped playing games and plundered her mouth, bruising it with a fervor that astounded Jenna to the depths of her soul, igniting a hot flood that she hadn't known she possessed. She met him, danced with him, in a honeyed waltz of desire and need.

Jenna dissolved into his sizzling touch, into his heady scent and harsh moans. She arched into him offering her own sigh of surprise. She tortured her fingers with the silky touch of his hair and partnered her tongue with his. And when she felt his hands drop to cup her breast, she knew that this was what the diaries had been all about.

Passion.

 

Dear Reader,

Promises are meant to be kept. That's what I was always taught. But keeping my promise has never proved to be a bigger challenge than the promise itself.

Jenna Sinclair promises her dying grandmother that she will retrieve her gran's damaging diaries. Though Jenna hadn't bargained for a sexy cowboy standing in her way. My, my, but even with that promise hanging over her head, she finds it hard to deceive Sam Winchester. All Jenna wants to do is throw caution to the wind and make hay with her irresistible cowboy. Ah, but that promise cannot be forgotten.

I hope you enjoy reading how Jenna and Sam stay true to themselves while giving in to their desires. I love to hear from my readers, so please write me at P.O. Box 1979, Centreville, Virginia 20122, or send me an e-mail at www.karenanders.com.

Enjoy!

Karen Anders

Books by Karen Anders

HARLEQUIN BLAZE

22—THE BARE FACTS

43—HOT ON HER TAIL

SILHOUETTE INTIMATE MOMENTS

780—JENNIFER'S OUTLAW

THE DIVA DIARIES
Karen Anders

To Barbara,

The mother of my heart.

Thanks for being there when I need you.

(beep, beep, RR)

Prologue

H
IS HANDS WERE SMOOTH
and hot against her bare shoulders.

The moment he touched her, the strains of a haunting aria wafted through her head, a piece she should know but couldn't identify, drifting over her like the gentle palms that played over her body.

Piercing blue eyes, strong jaw and a full, sensuous mouth were attributes that had caught her attention, but the man he was inside was the true prize.

His hands moved over her shoulders, gliding up to her face. His mouth was greedy when he kissed her, as greedy as she was for his kiss. And still the aria played in her head and he became part of the magic, twining and infusing the chords into solid limbs to hold her, hands to touch her, a heart to enfold her. In his arms, the music inside her came alive.

The dress slipped from her body, a glittering, shining treasure of silver and gold, pooling at her feet. She stepped out of it as easily as she vowed she would step away from the opera. Susanna Chandler would not look back.

Her hands pressed against the hard muscles of his chest. Her arms went around him to hold him close, like something precious once lost, now found. And
she knew this was the perfect passion she'd searched for since her journey began.

She whispered his name.

He seemed to slip out of her grasp, his face swimming and indistinct. No, she fought against waking up. There was something she knew was there, something elusive, real…

“Gran. It's me.”

“Jenna.” Her granddaughter was petite with long, dark wavy hair. Her face mirrored perfect bone structure, her wide brown eyes almond-shaped, lined subtly in black with a shimmering rose eye shadow, her high, delicate cheekbones smooth, dusted with a muted dusky pink.

“Dreaming of Gramps again?” Jenna bent over the hospital bed, the scent of her exotic perfume familiar and welcoming to Susanna. Proud of the woman her granddaughter had become, Susanna offered up her cheek for a kiss. Smoothing down the rumpled sheet and blanket, Jenna sat in a chair beside the bed.

“Lately it's the same dream.”

Jenna reached out and squeezed her hand. Turning to the nightstand, she picked up a glass and poured some ice water into it. Adding a straw, her granddaughter offered the cup to her. “You miss him, don't you?”

“Yes, immensely. He was the only man for me,” Susanna said before she took a sip of the cold water.

“I miss him, too.” When she held out the cup again, Susanna waved it away. Jenna set it back on the nightstand.

Susanna moved her frail hand and clasped her
granddaughter's. Her other one clasped a small ruby-red book and something infinitely more precious.

When Susanna had been young, she had wanted to experience all that life had to offer. But unlike her, Jenna retreated and hid in the shadow of her music, convinced that was all she really wanted. It broke Susanna's heart, knowing that her own daughter had had a hand in her granddaughter's plight.

Jenna was at the pinnacle of her fame and had achieved utter perfection on the violin. It was no wonder that her granddaughter was so proficient. Jenna gave all that she had to the instrument that, in Susanna's opinion, couldn't give anything back. Inanimate objects couldn't take the place of flesh and bone, muscle and strength, heat and fire.

And Jenna had never experienced fire.

Susanna studied her granddaughter's clothing, dressed as she was in a pair of tailored gray pants, pink silk blouse and a classic gray blazer. She was the epitome of the sophisticated prima performer, yet there was a core of steel in this young woman, a formidable will and a heart of gold.

Before she went, Susanna was determined that she would give her granddaughter a chance at love.

“There is something I must tell you.” The weariness was dragging her down and she knew there wasn't enough time to tell Jenna everything.

“What is it?” Jenna said in alarm.

“Time is running out and I'll not be with you much longer.”

“I know that, Gran.” The pain and sadness in Jenna's voice pulled at Susanna's heart. Susanna's
life was over, and she would never leave the hospital, but Jenna still had time, time to change.

“Do you?” She lifted the book from its resting place against her breast. “This is the last of my two diaries. The other one is in the desk.”

“What desk?”

“Jenna, get the missing diary and protect them both. I was wicked—parties, men, scandal. Now those diaries could hurt them.”

“Who, Gran?”

“There's sensuous jewelry.” She grabbed Jenna's arm. “Keep all of it safe. Those men have families, important lives. Please, the diaries…the jewelry…”

Susanna closed her eyes, felt her strength slipping away. She squeezed her granddaughter's hand for the last time. “Promise me!”

“I promise.”

“Come closer, child,” Susanna said. Jenna's face swam before her eyes. When Jenna complied, Susanna pressed the delicate gold heart and fine chain into her hand. “Cherish this locket…”

“Gran.”

“Find the diaries. Protect them. Read them.”

Jenna was speaking to her, but the warm hand on Susanna's face distracted her. When she turned her head, her husband was there. With a deep sigh, she let go. Jenna would have to learn on her own that there was more to life than music.

As she slipped further away from the corporeal world, her final thought was for Jenna. There had been no contest between her husband and her music. She'd chosen the man she loved more than life. Her
own daughter had chosen music and paid the price in heartbreak.

As she flew on the wings of happiness to her final destination, with her husband's hand clasped in hers, Susanna hoped it wasn't too late for her granddaughter to change the decision she'd made.

1

“J
ENNA
! I
NEED TO SPEAK
to you! Open the door! Jenna!” The banging on the front door distracted her from her thoughts. She knew that voice. It was her agent and friend Sarah McAllister.

Jenna got to the door, undid the new locks and let Sarah in.

Sarah stormed past Jenna and started jerking off her coat. “I take a two-week vacation and when I get back, my secretary tells me that you want to cancel a tour that has taken me months to arrange, all for a charity event in some small town in Texas. Have you lost your mind? My name is going to be mud in this industry.”

Jenna calmly took Sarah's coat and hung it in the hall closet. “Sarah, take a deep breath. I'm not ditching the tour. Your secretary got it wrong. I just need some time.”

“How much time?” Sarah looked at her more closely and must have seen her grief and her worry.

“What happened?”

“My grandmother died.”

“Oh, my God. That'll teach me to go to a secluded island getaway. And you let me rant and rave. Why
didn't you stop me from making a fool of myself?” Instantly contrite, Sarah took hold of Jenna's hands.

It was hard to believe that the woman who had raised her from infancy was gone. Jenna's gran truly was the only mother she had ever known. After Jenna's birth, her mother had been eager to get back to the glittering world of opera and couldn't be bothered with an infant. Meanwhile, Jenna's father was too obsessed with his wife to be away from her for any length of time. So both of her parents had drifted from her, while her gran had taken on more and more of the responsibility.

Jenna sat on her grandmother's camelback antique sofa in the small parlor and Sarah followed.

Jenna's voice broke the stillness. “I'd sit for hours like this, drinking tea from a fine china cup and reading while Gran produced intricate lace doilies from silken white thread. I can almost smell the cinnamon cookies we were both fond of.” The memory caused her breath to jam in her chest. Unable to sit any longer, Jenna got up and walked to the piano. She ran her hand along the polished black cover that protected the ivory keys. On the piano was one of those elaborate doilies, and numerous photographs in gleaming gold frames. A visual catalog of her gran's life flashed before Jenna's eyes.

“I remember how she used to sing her chords every day, running up and down the scale with her magnificent voice. Her voice was very beautiful. It's easy to understand why she was so popular.”

Sarah got up and walked over to the piano. She put her hand on Jenna's shoulder and the light touch
seemed to give Jenna comfort. “Next to you, Jenna, your gran was the most amazing woman I've ever known. But you're stalling. Why the new door locks?”

Restless, Jenna rose and walked to the window. She stared out at the huge oak painted with the gentle hues of the fading sun.

“What's going on? Has something happened?”

“Sticky situation.”

“So this jaunt to Texas has more to do with this
sticky situation
than it has to do with the fund-raiser for that hospital?”

Jenna nodded her head. “I couldn't face the house after the funeral—going through her things. It was too much.”

“That's understandable, but why change the locks?” Sarah persisted.

“When I finally got over here, a week or so after the funeral, my uncle Paul was here cleaning out the place.” Tears filled her eyes. “He'd been arranging it since before my gran's death and had my mother's help in getting into the house.”

“That's terrible. It must have been hard for you to accept. What a despicable man—and your mother? I would have thought better of her. What did he do with your gran's beautiful belongings?”

“Sold them.”

“But what does selling your gran's stuff have to do with the sticky situation?”

Tipping her head against the wall, Jenna stared harder at the oak and the slashes of color against its bark. “Before Gran died she told me that, well, that
she'd been pretty wild in her younger days. During that time, she kept some diaries and chronicled her search for the perfect physical passion. She gave one of the diaries to me. The other one is in the desk.”

“Go, Susanna.”

Jenna smiled faintly. “I was shocked, to say the least. I tried to get more details, but she was a bit incoherent and said the diaries were in the desk.

“She must have had at least three desks in her attic, in addition to some very pricey antiques. He sent all of it to an auction house and everything was sold.”

Sarah looked aghast. “Oh. Now I see. The diary?”

Jenna walked over from the window. “I had Steven Miller, our lawyer, call the party who'd purchased the first of the three desks. The gentleman was quite gracious and allowed me to buy the desk back with ten percent added to the price he paid for it. I searched the desk when it arrived, but there was nothing in it.”

Sarah looked puzzled. “So Mr. Miller called about the second desk?”

Jenna sat down. “Yes. This time it was a judge. But he wouldn't sell the desk back.”

A look of unease flickered across Sarah's face. Jenna understood Sarah's anxiety. Whatever touched Susanna also affected Jenna. Sarah was aware of the unwanted publicity the diary would stir up. But Jenna wasn't worried about her own reputation. “Didn't Mr. Miller tell him that there were mementos hidden in the desk that belonged to your gran?”

“He did and it spelled disaster.”

Sarah grimaced. “The judge said that anything in the desk belonged to him?” Sarah guessed. At
Jenna's nod, Sarah continued, “So was the diary in the desk?”

“No.” Sarah's expression relaxed. “He allowed Mr. Miller to be present when he searched the desk, especially after Mr. Miller told him that the desk, though purchased legitimately, had been fraudulently acquired by my disreputable uncle.”

“Which brings us to the third and final desk.” Sarah clasped Jenna's hand. “It's in Texas?”

“A man by the name of Sam Winchester from Savannah, Texas, purchased the rolltop desk.”

Sarah closed her eyes briefly, whether in dread or in relief, Jenna couldn't tell. “So that's why you're going there. You're going to search the desk yourself, aren't you?”

“I have to, Sarah. I can't take the chance that Mr. Winchester will act like the judge and lay claim to any articles hidden in the desk. He needs money to modernize Savannah's memorial hospital. Charity concerts would be a good way to raise money and a good excuse to get into his house.”

Outside the living room, the sunset blazed and faded and Sarah stared at Jenna. Deep reservations about this hasty decision gleamed in Sarah's eyes. Sarah was paid and paid well to anticipate and ward off anything that would cause negative attention for her client, but Jenna cared more about her promise to her gran.

“You think people would be interested in a bunch of diaries written by a girl?” Sarah asked.

“Probably not some ordinary girl. But my gran wasn't ordinary. She was a phenomenon, a diva of
the opera and she had affairs with men who are now very prominent citizens. She begged me to protect them and their families. It would be terribly damaging and scandalous to them.” Jenna debated telling Sarah more bad news, but decided it would make her understand why it was imperative that Jenna go to Texas. “And there's some very old and very valuable erotic jewelry hidden in the desk, too.”

At her words, she could see that Sarah was resigned to Jenna going to Texas. “Jeez, this just keeps getting better and better. What kind of jewelry?”

“Jewel-encrusted nipple rings, a waist chain, and a jade necklace carved in a very distinct way.”

“Phallic?” Sarah asked, her shoulders slumping in defeat.

“Oh yeah.”

“How did you find out about this charity event and how are you going to get into his house?”

That's what Jenna liked about Sarah. When she committed herself, she went forward without restraint. Jenna said, “I hired a private investigator. He came up with all the details and gave me a cover. The story about the hospital's renovation is in
Entrepreneur Magazine,
and there's an interview with Mr. Winchester.”

“A cover?” Uncertainty crept into her expression. “Like a spy.”

“I'm not exactly spying. I just want the diary and the jewelry.”

“So you concocted what kind of story?”

“Actually, I need you to contact Sam for me and tell him that I would like to do two concerts and a
workshop at their local college in exchange for an opportunity to experience a real, working Texas ranch.”

“How could the guy turn you down, since you're doing all this for free, right?”

“My thoughts exactly. Besides he's the chairman of the fund-raising effort. Who else would have me as a houseguest? It would only be for two weeks.”

“Good point. How big is this town?”

“Midsize, but close to Houston and Galveston.”

Jenna saw the gleam in Sarah's eye. “I can work with that. At least I can get some good publicity out of this fiasco.”

“So you'll do it?” Jenna asked.

“You'll finish out the tour?”

Jenna felt some of the tension go out of her spine. “Cross my heart. Have I ever let you down, Sarah?”

October 8, 1957

It's now been six months since I started my journey of sexual awakening and I'm no closer to my goal. I've had experiences that have been carnally satisfying, fulfilling the needs of the body, but it doesn't seem to be enough. It's vaguely disappointing and I can't understand why. This is what I wanted, what I planned for, yet it hasn't given me as much pleasure as I expected. Perhaps I just haven't met the right man. I'll find that one perfect physical encounter. I just have to keep looking.

 

Jenna closed the diary and looked out the window of the 747 into the bright cloudless sky. It had always
been Jenna's impression that Gran loved Gramps with all her heart. After reading this passage, she wondered why Gran had so desperately wanted her to read these diaries. She rather liked the love story she'd heard about her grandparents and didn't want to read about the other men in her gran's life.

The “fasten seat belt” light came on and the pilot announced their approach to the Houston airport, stating the time was one o'clock and that the weather on this fine April day was a mild seventy-three degrees.

Jenna reached down and reverently picked up the worn black violin case and opened the lid. Inside sat her instrument, a gleaming Stradivarius that had been a present from Gran and Gramps when she'd graduated from Julliard.

The thought of Julliard brought back many memories. Memories of how she'd left Rosewood, Connecticut, which had been Gran's respite from New York City. To Jenna, though, the Victorian house with the gazebo-like porch and the pointed roofs with the contrasting white gables was her home. The expensive apartment Gran had purchased for her, so that Jenna wouldn't have to commute during her four years at Julliard, didn't mean much to Jenna.

Julliard had been a bane and a boon. Because of her mother and grandmother's fame, Jenna was goggled at, given a wide berth, and, because of it, felt isolated and alone. She'd had nothing but the music to bolster her and she'd retreated into it, excelling at her studies, but only engendering more awe.

She hadn't wanted the awe. What she'd wanted was to belong, to be treated like everyone else.

She'd even tried singing, but that, too, made the students envy her, shun her or ignore her. Jenna was cursed with talent and it was just one more lesson in the many lessons she'd learned the hard way. Her music never shunned her, deserted her or asked for what Jenna couldn't give.

Even her gran had been somewhat insensitive to Jenna's needs. To her disappointment, Jenna had taken up the violin instead of developing her exceptional singing voice. Truth be told, Jenna didn't really want to go into a profession that would have her competing directly with her mother.

Jenna stroked the instrument with a soft cloth she kept in the case. Unable to help herself, she ran her hands over the strings. Just thinking about the sound of the sweet, pure notes it produced made her smile.

She closed the case and kept the violin in her lap. Grabbing her briefcase from under the seat in front of her, she tucked the diary inside.

Antsy and agitated at the reason for her impromptu journey, she gripped the seat arms as the plane touched down.

As she made her way to the gate, she vowed she wasn't leaving Savannah, Texas, until she got what she came for.

True to her promise, Sarah had participated fully in the scheme and sent Jenna's photo to Sam Winchester so he could recognize her at the airport.

Unfortunately, Jenna had no idea what Sam looked like. It was no matter; he was probably some aging, retired lawman with a potbelly and gray hair, who couldn't stop reliving stories of his thrilling time in
the Rangers. She was pretty confident that she'd be able to wrap this old guy around her little finger.

A man caught her eye. In fact, he caught more than one eye. He was standing against the far wall, obviously waiting for someone, probably a sweetheart, since his fist was full of roses. One black-booted foot was propped against the wall, while the other long leg was braced to hold him upright. The brim of the black Stetson he wore obscured most of his face except for a strong jawline. His eyes were lowered to a piece of paper in his free hand.

He was wearing a black Western-style shirt, edged in white piping and, over the shirt, a beautiful black buckskin-fringed jacket with soft leather appliqué that featured white buffalo galloping around the hem of the short waist. The jacket covered a pretty impressive set of shoulders and a wide chest. A pair of tight, formfitting black jeans outlined sleek, heavy muscles molded to those long legs.

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