Leigh Kendall revelled in her Broadway acting career, and her marriage to Logan Manning, scion of an old New York Family. When her husband finds an old country cabin, he decides to build their dream house and surprise Leigh with her first view of the mountain property. Following a Sunday night performance, Leigh heads north to join him, but is run off the road fighting the elements of a blinding blizzard. When she awakes in the local hospital, seriously injured, she asks for her husband. The police arrive to inform her that he has mysteriously disappeared, and Leigh, although obviously distraught, becomes the focus of their suspicions. Leigh plunges into a desperate search to find him...and into a menacing web of secrets, deception, and danger. The more she uncovers about her husband and his business affairs, the less she realizes she knew about Logan Manning. Now, with no one to help her, she is heading deeper and deeper into unknown territory...where friends and enemies are impossible to distinguish, and where the truth becomes the most terrifying weapon of all.
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Judith McNaught soared to stardom with her stunning bestseller, Whitney, My Love. Since then, she has gone on to win the hearts of millions of readers around the world with such breathtaking novels as Paradise, Tender Triumph, Double Standards and Remember When. She lives in Houston, Texas where she is at work on her next novel.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
from Someone to Watch Over Me
"Miss Kendall, can you hear me? I'm Doctor Metcalf, and you're at Good Samaritan Hospital in Mountainside. We're going to take you out of the ambulance now and into the emergency room."
Shivering uncontrollably, Leigh Kendall reacted to the insistent male voice that was calling her back to consciousness, but she couldn't seem to summon the strength to open her eyelids.
"Can you hear me, Miss Kendall?"
With an effort, she finally managed to force her eyes open. The doctor who had spoken was bending over her, examining her head, and beside him, a nurse was holding a clear plastic bag of IV fluid.
"We're going to take you out of the ambulance now," he repeated as he beamed a tiny light at each of her pupils.
"Need...to tell...husband I'm here," Leigh managed in a feeble whisper.
He nodded and gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. "The State Highway Patrol will take care of that. In the meantime, you have some very big fans at Good Samaritan, including me, and we're going to take excellent care of you."
Voices and images began to fly at Leigh from every direction as the gurney was lifted from the ambulance. Red and blue lights pulsed frantically against a gray dawn sky. Uniforms flashed past her line of vision-New York State Highway Patrol officers, paramedics, doctors, nurses. Doors swung open, the hallway flew by, faces crowded around her, firing urgent questions at her.
Leigh tried to concentrate, but their voices were collapsing into an incomprehensible babble, and their features were sliding off their faces, dissolving into the same blackness that had already devoured the rest of the room.
* * * *
When Leigh awoke again, it was dark outside and a light snow was still falling. Struggling to free herself from the effects of whatever drugs were dripping into her arm from the IV bag above her, she gazed dazedly at what appeared to be a hospital room filled with a riotous display of flowers.
Seated on a chair near the foot of the bed, flanked by a huge basket of purple orchids and a large vase of bright yellow roses, a gray-haired nurse was reading a copy of The New York Times with Leigh's picture on the front page.
Leigh turned her head as much as the brace on her neck would allow, searching for some sign of Logan, but for the time being, she was alone with the nurse. Experimentally, she moved her legs and wiggled her toes, and was relieved to find them still attached to the rest of her and in good working order. Her arms were bandaged and her head was wrapped in something tight, but as long as she didn't move, her discomfort seemed to be limited to a generalized ache throughout her body, a sharper ache in her ribs, and a throat so dry it felt as if it was stuffed with gauze.
She was alive, and that in itself was a miracle! The fact that she was also whole and relatively unharmed filled Leigh with a sense of gratitude and joy that was almost euphoric. She swallowed and forced a croaking whisper from her parched throat. "May I have some water?"
The nurse looked up, a professional smile instantly brightening her face. "You're awake!" she said as she quickly closed the newspaper, folded it in half, and laid it face-down beneath her chair.
The name tag on the nurse's uniform identified her as "Ann Mackey, RN. Private Duty," Leigh noted as she watched the nurse pouring water from a plastic pitcher on the tray beside the bed.
"You should have a straw. I'll go get one."
"Don't bother about that right now. I'm really thirsty."
Smiling sympathetically, the nurse started to hold the glass to Leigh's mouth, but Leigh took it from her. "I can hold it," Leigh assured her, and then was amazed by how much effort it took just to lift her bandaged arm and hold it steady. By the time she handed the glass back to Nurse Mackey, her arm was trembling and her chest hurt terribly. Wondering if perhaps there was more wrong with her than she'd thought, Leigh let her head sink back into the pillows while she gathered the strength to talk. "What sort of condition am I in?"
Nurse Mackey looked eager to share her knowledge, but she hesitated. "You really should ask Dr. Metcalf about that."
"I will, but I'd like to hear it now, from my private duty nurse. I won't tell him you told me anything."
It was all the encouragement the elderly woman needed. "You were in shock when you were brought in," she confided. "You had a concussion, hypothermia, cracked ribs, and suspected injuries to the cervical vertebrae and adjacent tissue-that's whiplash in laymen's terms. You have several deep scalp wounds as well as lacerations on your arms, legs, and torso, but only a few of them are on your face, and they aren't deep, which is a blessing. You also have contusions and abrasions all over your -- "
Smiling, Leigh lifted her hand to stop the litany of injuries. "That's too much detail. Is there anything wrong with me now that will need surgery?"
Nurse Mackey looked taken aback by Leigh's dismissive attitude, and then she looked impressed. "No surgery," she said with an approving little pat on Leigh's shoulder.
"Any physical therapy?"
"I wouldn't think so. But you should expect to be very sore for a few weeks, and your ribs will hurt. Your burns and cuts will require close attention, healing and scaring could be a concern -- "
Leigh interrupted this new deluge of depressing medical minutia with another smile. "I'll be very careful," she promised, and then she switched to the only other topic on her mind. "Where is my husband?"
Nurse Mackey faltered and then patted Leigh's shoulder again. "I'll go and see about that," she promised, and hurried off, leaving Leigh with the impression that Logan was nearby.
Exhausted from the simple acts of drinking and speaking, Leigh closed her eyes and tried to piece together what had happened to her since yesterday, when Logan kissed her good bye in the morning.
He'd been so excited when he left their East Side apartment, so eager for her to join him in the mountains and spend the night with him there. For nearly two years, he'd been looking for just the right site for their mountain retreat, a secluded setting that would complement the sprawling stone house he'd designed for the two of them. On Thursday, he'd finally found a piece of property that met all his exacting qualifications, and he'd been so eager for her to see it that he insisted they should spend Sunday night -- their first available night -- in the existing cabin on the land.
"The cabin hasn't been used in years, but I'll clean it up while I'm waiting for you to get there," he promised, displaying an endearing enthusiasm for a task he normally diligently avoided. "There isn't any electricity or heat, but I'll build a roaring fire in the fireplace, and we'll sleep in front of it in sleeping bags. We'll have dinner by candlelight. In the morning, we'll watch the sun rise over the tops of the trees. Our trees. It will be very romantic, you'll see."
His entire plan filled Leigh with amused dread. She was starring in a new play that had opened on Broadway the night before, and she'd only had four hours of sleep. Before she could leave for the mountains, she had a Sunday matinee performance to give, followed by a three-hour drive to a cold, uninhabitable stone cabin, so that she could sleep on the floor...and then get up at dawn the next day.
"I can't wait," she lied with an affectionate smile, but what she really wanted to do was go back to sleep. It was only eight o'clock. She could sleep until ten.
Logan hadn't had any more sleep than she, but he was already dressed and eager to leave for the cabin. "The place isn't easy to find, so I drew you a detailed map with plenty of landmarks," he said, laying a piece of paper on her nightstand. "I've already loaded the car. I think I have everything I need -- " he continued, leaning over her in bed and pressing a quick kiss on her cheek. " -- house plans, stakes, string, a transom, sleeping bags. I still feel like I'm forgetting something..."
"A broom, a mop, and a bucket?" Leigh joked sleepily as she rolled over onto her stomach. "Scrub brushes? Detergent?"
"Kill-joy," he teased, nuzzling her neck where he knew she was ticklish.
Leigh giggled, pulled the pillow over the back of her head, and continued dictating his shopping list. "Disinfectant...mouse traps..."
"You sound like a spoiled, pampered Broadway star," he chuckled. "Where is your sense of adventure?"
"It stops at a Holiday Inn," she said with a muffled giggle.
With a laugh, he pulled the pillow from her head and rumpled her hair. "Leave straight from the theater. Don't be late." He stood up and headed for the door to their bedroom suite. "I know I'm forgetting something -- "
"Drinking water, candles, a tin coffee pot?" Leigh helpfully chanted. "Food for dinner? A pear for my breakfast?"
"No more pears. You're addicted," he teased over his shoulder. "From now on, it's Cream of Wheat and prunes for you."
"Sadist," Leigh mumbled into the pillows, but she was smiling. A moment later she heard the door close behind him, and she rolled onto her back, smiling to herself as she gazed out the bedroom windows overlooking Central Park. They'd both been very young and very poor when they married. Back then, their only assets had been Logan's brand new degree in architecture and Leigh's unproven acting talent-that, and their unflagging faith in each other.
With those tools, they'd built a wonderful life together and strengthened it over the next thirteen years. During the last few months however, they'd both been so busy that their sex life had become almost nonexistent. She'd been immersed in the pre-opening craziness of a new play, and Logan had been consumed with the endless complexities of his latest, and biggest, business venture.
As Leigh lay in bed, gazing out at the clouds gathering in the November sky, she decided she definitely liked the prospect of spending the night by a blazing fire, with nothing to do but make love with her ...
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