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New York Times Bestselling Author
From America’s beloved storyteller, Barbara Delinsky, comes a classic novel about looking for love in all the right places—and finding a place to call home…
The young widowed heiress to a hotel empire, Deanna Hunt isn’t one to mix business with pleasure. But when she first lays eyes on Mark Birmingham, she just can’t help herself. In a moment of passion, she spends a wildly romantic night in this handsome stranger’s arms—in the very hotel that is her heart and her home. If that weren’t awkward enough, it turns out that Mark is the architect for the Hunt Foundation’s children’s hospital, which makes Deanna his boss. If they hope to work together, Mark and Deanna will need to cool off before they ignite a scandal. But even if the sign on the hotel room door says “Do Not Disturb”, the home fires are still burning…and hearts are ablaze.
Previously published as Beyond Fantasy by Billie Douglass
Reader Rating: Not rated (0 Ratings)
HOME FIRES (Chapter 1)
“Good morning, Mrs. Hunt. Have you decided what you’ll have for breakfast this morning?”
Deanna Hunt raised her eyes from the morning paper. With rare exceptions, she had eaten breakfast in the dining room of the Hunt International-Atlanta Hotel every morning for the past ten years. A menu was unnecessary.
“Any fresh strawberries today, Frank?” she asked softly.
Frank Pareto smiled and winked. “Fresh and sweet. With a little cream, perhaps?” he coaxed gently. In the years he’d been serving her, never once had he heard a condescending word pass her lips. Despite her youth, when Lawrence Hunt had married her and brought her to Atlanta to live, she had always been poised and gracious. Frank looked forward to her arrival in the dining room each morning. “The pecan rolls are particularlygood today,” he added on a note of temptation. “May I bring you a basket?”
Deanna returned his smile with a hint of chiding. “Are you trying to fatten me up, Frank?”
“That’s my job, Mrs. Hunt.” The waiter tipped his head, not in the least hesitant As had many on the Hunt staff, he had grown more protective of her since the death of her husband nearly fourteen months earlier. She inspired that kind of caring.
“You do it very well.” Deanna’s compliment preceded a decisive nod. “Make it strawberries with cream and one pecan roll.” She arched an auburn brow to emphasize the strict limit. Now that she had finally replaced the weight she’d lost after Larry’s death, she no longer looked painfully thin. In fact, she had begun to notice gentle curves that had not been there when she’d first married. She had been nineteen then, barely out of her teens. Now she was several months short of thirty and a wealthy widow. It was a situation some women would have envied, yet Deanna increasingly sensed its flaws. With not a material worry in the world, she had no outward cause for complaint. What, then, explained the growing restlessness she felt?
Her disconcerted eye returned to the paper as Frank quietly disappeared into the kitchen and another waiter unobtrusively poured her coffee. He was a newer member of the hotel staff and slightly in awe of the presence of the head of the Hunt Foundation. Only Deanna knew her role to be a titular one. Like a queen, she was pampered and revered while the true power lay in the hands of others.
“Deanna?” A restrained male voice broke into her sober reverie, drawing her head up seconds before it brought a spontaneous smile to her lips.
“Jim, what a pleasure to see you!” she exclaimed,warmly extending her hands to meet his clasp. “It’s been a long time.”
James Drummond was relieved by the welcome. Though he knew that Lawrence and Deanna had purposely formed the habit of breakfasting in the dining room in order to be accessible to the hotel’s guests, he feared that he had caught Deanna in a moment of private thought. She had borne a look of utter vulnerability in that split second before the mask of the hostess had fallen over those deep inner emotions.
“I haven’t been in Atlanta for months,” Jim explained, releasing her slender hands slowly. “It seems that business has been concentrated around New York and Boston lately.” He paused. “You’re looking very well, Deanna.”
Home FiresBy: Barbara Delinsky