Tears Of Pride
HER LEGACY HAS JUST GONE UP IN FLAMESSheila Lindstrom is reeling from the aftermath of the devastating fire that claimed the life of her father and all but destroyed Cascade Valley Winery, the family's pride and joy. Without the insurance proceeds needed to rebuild the winery, Sheila risks losing everything to corporate monolith Wilder Investments. When she confronts company president Noah Wilder, an undeniable attraction hits both of them with the force of a tidal wave. Will mistrust and deceit undermine this volatile union–or will love rise from the ashes?
“I think you could persuade me to do anything,” Noah said.
His finger trailed down her throat to rest against her collar. Her heart fluttered.
She stepped away and eyed him suspiciously. “What would it take for you to listen to my side of the story?”
He shrugged. “Not much.”
Noah’s eyes gleamed devilishly. “Why don’t we start with dinner?”
“All right, Noah. Why not?” Sheila countered. “But I insist we keep the conversation on business.”
“Just come with me,” he suggested wickedly. “The conversation and the night will take care of themselves.”
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Tears of Pride
To Mary Clare, my editor,
with love and affection.
CHAPTER ONE (#u548fdf7c-9548-5237-a9e7-2a1b1532b0c7)
CHAPTER TWO (#u2b11752d-b845-5f48-a7d4-5be0bcfe9ccb)
CHAPTER THREE (#u2a721865-52b0-5f32-af66-a5fd264f255e)
CHAPTER FOUR (#ud8550f29-4590-5ae8-ac45-980cc595121f)
CHAPTER FIVE (#litres_trial_promo)
CHAPTER SIX (#litres_trial_promo)
CHAPTER SEVEN (#litres_trial_promo)
CHAPTER EIGHT (#litres_trial_promo)
CHAPTER NINE (#litres_trial_promo)
CHAPTER TEN (#litres_trial_promo)
CHAPTER ELEVEN (#litres_trial_promo)
CHAPTER TWELVE (#litres_trial_promo)
CHAPTER THIRTEEN (#litres_trial_promo)
HE STOOD ALONE, and his vibrant blue eyes scanned the horizon, as if he were looking for something…or someone. The cold morning fog on the gray waters of Elliott Bay hampered his view, but the lonely, broad-shouldered man didn’t seem to notice. Haggard lines were etched across his forehead and an errant lock of dark brown hair was caught in the Pacific breeze. Noah Wilder didn’t care. Though dressed only in a business suit, the icy wind blowing across Puget Sound couldn’t cool the anger and frustration burning within him.
Realizing that he had wasted too much time staring at the endlessly lapping water, he began to walk along the waterfront, back to a job he could barely stomach. He gritted his teeth in determination as he continued southward and tried to quiet the anger and fear that were tearing him apart. Just half an hour earlier he had been notified that his son was missing from school. It had happened before. Noah closed his mind to the terrifying thoughts. By now, he was used to the fact that his rebellious son hated school—especially the school into which he had been transferred just two months before. Noah hoped that Sean wasn’t in any real trouble or danger.
He paused only once as he walked back to the office and that was to buy a newspaper. Knowing it was a mistake, he opened the paper to the financial section. Although this time the article was buried, Noah managed to find it on the fourth page. After all this time, he had hoped that the interest in the scandal would have faded. He was wrong. “Damn,” he muttered to himself as he quickly scanned the story.
It had been four weeks since the fire, but that had been time enough for Noah Wilder to have the opportunity to curse his father too many times to count. Today was no exception. Actually the fire and the scandal surrounding it were only a couple of problems on a long list that seemed to grow daily. The fire and the suspected arson complicated matters for Noah, and until the entire business was resolved, he knew that he would suffer many more long hours in the office and endure countless sleepless nights. It was just his luck that the blaze had started while his father was out of the country. At the thought of Ben Wilder, Noah’s frown deepened.
The early morning was still thick with fog, the air thick with the smell of the sea. A few shafts of sunlight pierced the gray clouds and reflected on the water collected on the concrete sidewalk, but Noah was too preoccupied with his own black thoughts to notice the promise of spring in the brisk air.
An angry horn blared, and a passing motorist shouted indignantly at Noah as he stepped onto the street against the traffic. He ignored the oath and continued, without breaking stride, toward the massive concrete and steel structure that housed Wilder Investments, his father’s prosperous holding company. Damn his father! This was one helluva time for Ben to be recuperating in Mexico, leaving Noah to clean up all of the problems at the company. If it weren’t for his father’s recent heart attack, Noah would be back in Portland where he belonged, and perhaps Sean wouldn’t be missing from school again. At the thought of his rebellious son, Noah’s stomach tightened with concern. The lines deepened on his forehead, and his thoughtful scowl gave him a ragged, anxious appearance. Unfortunately, Noah could blame no one but himself for his son’s attitude.
Noah should never have let Ben talk him into taking control of Wilder Investments, not even for a short period of time. It had been a mistake, and Sean was the person who was paying for it. Noah shouldn’t have let his emotions dictate the decision to move to Seattle, and Ben’s heart attack shouldn’t have made any difference in that decision. Noah uttered an oath under his breath and slapped the rolled newspaper against his thigh in frustration. It had been difficult enough trying to raise a son alone in Portland. But now, in Seattle, along with the problems of managing Wilder Investments, it was nearly impossible for Noah to find enough time for his son.