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Мортимер Кэрол

Wish For The Moon

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«Wish For The Moon» - Кэрол Мортимер

Carole Mortimer is one of Mills & Boon’s best loved Modern Romance authors. With nearly 200 books published and a career spanning 35 years, Mills & Boon are thrilled to present her complete works available to download for the very first time! Rediscover old favourites – and find new ones! – in this fabulous collection…He will claim her…as his wife!Elizabeth Farnham has learned that there’s a fine line between love and hate¬—once she had loved dynamic Quinn Taylor, now she despises him! How could she not when he seems responsible for the death of her cousin?But thanks to her grandfather’s matchmaking scheme, Quinn has returned to claim Elizabeth for his own. The attraction between them is as sizzling as always. And Elizabeth soon discovers that, no matter what the cost, Quinn is determined to have her as his wife!
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Wish for the Moon Carole Mortimer

www.millsandboon.co.uk

Table of Contents

Title Page

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

EPILOGUE

Copyright

PROLOGUE

SHE felt a little like Cinderella must have done when she had her first glimpse of Prince Charming.

Not that the circumstances were quite the same: she didn’t have two wicked stepsisters, only her cousin Fergus, but he could definitely be wicked! And although she had been orphaned at birth, her Aunt Madge was nothing like a wicked stepmother, and Uncle Hector could be very kind. Nevertheless, she had always known she was an interloper in the family, taken in because she was the daughter of Uncle Hector’s sister, although no one had ever been cruel to her.

It had been a pleasant life, if uneventful, Uncle Hector making a meagre living tenant-farming on the Farnham estate.

It was because of who Quinn Taylor was that she suddenly felt as if she had been thrust into the midst of a fairy-tale.

With that ebony-dark hair, and those deep, deep-blue eyes, he had to be every woman’s idea of a Prince Charming. And she hadn’t even realised what sensuality was until she gazed upon Quinn Taylor. It surrounded him like an invisible aura, all the more potent because he seemed unaware of it. He was a lazily charming man who had had success after success singing about what he seemed to love best; the people he cared about, and the mountainous beauty that surrounded his Canadian home.

Canada’s John Denver, he had been called, but from the moment Lise saw him she knew he was unique!

It was a fairy-tale that he was here in her aunt’s and uncle’s home at all. Her cousin Fergus had written a song that Quinn Taylor had been interested in recording for his next album. Fergus had been over the moon about the breakthrough, the biggest he had had since deciding to make song-writing his career, even more thrilled when the recording star asked him to sit in on the sessions at the London studio. Fergus’s telephone conversations for the next week had been full of how wonderful the other man was, what a professional he was, and despite the fact that the other man was at least ten years older than Fergus’s twenty-two the two of them seemd to have formed a friendship. Then had come the telephone call that had sent the Morrison household into an uproar.

Quinn Taylor had been staying at a hotel for the making of his next album, but somehow the Press and fans had found out where he was staying and besieged the place. Fergus had offered him the use of the spare bedroom at the Morrison farm, and to everyone’s amazement he had accepted.

Aunt Madge had been in her element during the preparations for the star’s arrival, having the whole house in turmoil during the two days, which was all the notice she had received from Fergus, paying little heed to her son’s request for secrecy, telling everyone and anyone that Quinn Taylor was going to be a guest in her house. People had seemed slightly sceptical, but once the word got around that he had been seen at the house…! Lise had a feeling his request for privacy was going to be short-lived.

The two men had arrived from the recording-studio shortly before dinner, Fergus’s girlfriend Terri with them, Quinn Taylor very polite to them all, if slightly withdrawn during the meal.

Lise hadn’t been able to take her eyes off him, knowing she was gawping like a schoolgirl, but unable to stop. Quinn Taylor was here, in her home, sitting at the dinner-table eating with her family.

Suddenly he looked up and met her gaze, smiling gently as he saw the guilty blush in her cheeks. ‘I hope our late arrival hasn’t made you too tired for dinner,’ he smiled encouragingly.

Lise gave a pained frown. He thought she was still a child! Oh, she knew her tiny appearance often gave people that impression, and her Alice-in-Wonderland hair, secured in a single braid down her spine tonight, didn’t detract from the impression. But she liked having her hair long, and—and she wasn’t a child, damn it!

Her resentment deepened as she sensed Terri’s mocking glance on her. She and Terri had been at school together, Terri, at just twenty, her senior by three years, and she had never been able to understand what Fergus saw in the other girl. Apart from the obvious attractions, that was! Terri had begun modelling as soon as she left school at sixteen, and was relatively successful at it, a fact she never let anyone forget.

Lise knew that her own body still tended to run a little towards puppy-fat, but it was starting to go, her curves much more defined than they had been six months ago. She was just a late developer, her Uncle Hector had assured her when she voiced her concern to him. She had never wanted so desperately to appear older than her seventeen years than when she met Quinn Taylor, had worn the sun-dress that emphasised the fact that she was finally getting breasts and successfully hid the fact that her thighs were still a little more chunky than she would have wished. And it had all been for nothing; he thought she was a child up past her usual bedtime!

As if sensing that he had somehow committed a gaffe his smile deepened, and Lise stared at him in fascinated wonder.

‘Fergus mentioned something about showing me his music-room after dinner.’ Even his voice was sensual, deep and rich, the Canadian accent very attractive. ‘Perhaps you would like to join us?’ He quirked dark brows.

She glanced uncertainly at her aunt and uncle, knowing she had to help clear away after the meal, that it was one of her daily chores. But oh, how she longed to go with the other three to the loft over the cow-barn that had been converted into a music-room where Fergus could go and write without disturbing anyone.

Her uncle had converted the loft years ago, and when Fergus left to live in London three years ago he had told her she could use the room if she wanted to. It had become one of her favourite places, somewhere where she could be alone to think. And for the last two nights she had sat up there playing all her Quinn Taylor records, hardly able to believe that today he would be coming to stay with them. And now he had requested more of her company. Maybe she had misunderstood his last question; he certainly couldn’t regard her as a child if he wanted to spend more time with her!

‘Go ahead, love,’ her uncle was the one to encourage.

‘Your aunt and I can clear away here.’

‘Oh, but—–’

‘Let the girl have some fun, Madge,’ her uncle cut in firmly. ‘It isn’t as if she has much around here to distract her normally,’ he added drily.

The farm was part of the thousands of acres owned by the Farnham family, part of the Hampshire estate, and with no close neighbours Lise usually spent her evenings reading in her room or listening to records. Occasionally she would go into town and go out with a couple of her friends, but mainly she just stayed at home.

‘I wouldn’t dream of leaving you to clear away,’ Quinn Taylor spoke smoothly. ‘Perhaps Lise and I can do the dishes for you?’

She blushed as he smiled at her encouragingly, loving the way he said her name, almost making it a caress. She wouldn’t in the least mind doing the boring chore if she were going to be alone with Quinn Taylor in the kitchen!

‘I wouldn’t hear of it,’ her aunt refused lightly. ‘You all go on, Hector and I can manage here.’

Lise was well aware of the fact that it was only their guest’s presence that was excusing her from doing the work; her aunt was usually very strict about the chores she had to do during the day, and washing-up after the meals was the least of them.

Given the unexpected freedom, Lise was the first one out of the house, all the time aware of the warm sensuality of the man who walked along behind her talking quietly to Fergus.

‘Only another hour until your bedtime, isn’t it?’

Lise’s eyes flashed deeply green at the taunting voice of her cousin’s girlfriend, turning to glare at her. ‘The fact that I’m petite merely gives the illusion of my being young,’ she returned, looking pointedly at the other girl’s height, Terri being almost six feet tall.

Terri’s mouth twisted. ‘Try not to drool all over the poor man,’ she mocked in a bored voice. ‘I’m sure he doesn’t want his shirt wet!’

Lise’s cheeks were flushed at the barb, and she glanced uncomfortably behind them to see if the two men had heard their conversation; they were some way behind, still talking softly together.

Was her fascination with Quinn Taylor that obvious, or was Terri just being her usual bitchy self? Maybe it was a little of both, she realised ruefully, but could she help it if the man made her feel weak at the knees?

She had sat and gazed at one of his album covers last night, a close-up of his face as he smiled warmly into the camera. But the photograph hadn’t been able to do justice to the silky thickness of his hair, or the sensual slumbrousness of those deep-blue eyes. And without the make-up that had obviously needed to be worn beneath the hot lights of the camera his skin was more rugged, his jaw square and firm. In the photograph he had been wearing a thick jumper but tonight he wore a royal-blue shirt unbuttoned at the throat to reveal the start of the dark hair that no doubt covered most of his chest, his denims snug to his hips and thighs; Fergus had obviously warned him there would be no dressing up for dinner in the Morrison household, no matter who their guest was. He looked as if he were more comfortable in his casual clothes than he could ever have been in a formal suit, anyway.

Could she help it if he was much more devastating in the flesh than he was on an album cover or on television? And couldn’t she be excused for staring at him a little? Damn Terri for making her so self-conscious that she was afraid even to glance at him now!

The loft ran the whole length of the cow-barn, the roof reinforced to take the weight of the piano that stood near the floor-length window, the other end of the room converted to a lounge, with a stereo system wired up there.

Quinn grinned at Fergus as he picked up the top three albums in the pile. ‘I can’t fault your taste in music,’ he drawled, all three albums his.

Fergus grinned back, as sandy-haired as his father, although happily neither had the freckles that often went with that colouring. His laughing blue eyes were warm with laughter. ‘All the Quinn Taylor albums you’ll find there are Lise’s,’ he admitted softly. ‘I only became a fan because she played your music so much it was either that or go insane!’

Lise blushed uncomfortably as Quinn turned to her questioningly. ‘Your songs are so—real,’ she said awkwardly. ‘They often make me cry.’

His expression gentled. ‘I’m sorry. I never like to be responsible for making a lovely lady cry.’

She shrugged. ‘I only cry because the songs are so beautiful.’

‘Thank you,’ he accepted huskily.

Lise stared at him, mesmerised. And somehow she knew that not all of the lines beside his eyes had been caused by laughter, that he had known his share of sadness too.

Of course he had known sadness, she mentally rebuked herself, hadn’t his wife often years left him last summer, taking their daughter with her? For a long time there had been rumours of a reconciliation, but now those rumours were suggesting there would in fact be a divorce instead. Considering some of Quinn’s best songs were about the happiness he had known with his family this had to be a deep blow to him.

‘How about we make our own music?’ Fergus lightly cut in on the awkward moment, acknowledging Lise’s grateful smile with a conspiratorial wink. ‘Quinn?’ he indicated the piano as he picked up his guitar for himself.

‘And what do we play?’ Terri drawled as she leant gracefully against the piano.

‘You can use Lise’s guitar.’ He handed it to her with a grin, patting the stool beside his. ‘And Lise can share the piano with Quinn.’

She swallowed hard as Quinn moved accommodatingly along the bench stool, sitting gingerly beside him, her pulse racing at his proximity.

But her awkwardness left her after several minutes, as she struggled to keep up with Fergus as he moved from one sing-along song to another, the sensuously slender hands that moved along the keys beside her own distracting her from paying full attention to what she was doing. Quinn had lovely hands, long and thin, with tiny dark hairs covering the backs of his fingers. He made her own tiny hands look childlike, making her fully aware of how forcefully muscular he was.

And she was fascinated as he sang a rowdy song with Fergus, able to recognise that his voice was as true now as it was on his albums.

Suddenly he turned and once again caught her staring at him, sharing a grin with her before turning back to her cousin. Lise felt as if someone had struck her in the chest.

She was in love! Fully, completely, utterly, in love with Quinn Taylor. And now that he knew she wasn’t a child he seemed to like her too!

She, Lise Morrison, who had never had a boyfriend in her life, was in love with Quinn Taylor, a man who was known worldwide for his wonderful singing talent, who grossed millions every year in revenue from his songs and albums. It was incredible. Wonderful. It was impossible!

She was seventeen, he was thirty-two; he was still married, even if he was getting a divorce.

She felt so deflated she could have cried. As it was she played all the completely wrong notes, breaking off apologetically as Quinn turned to her with gentle enquiry.

Fergus broke off too as he sensed her distress. ‘Terri and I will go over to the house and get some beers,’ he suggested lightly. ‘We need it after all that singing.’ His arm was about Terri’s shoulders as they left to go over to the house.

Lise knew she should move away from Quinn, that her emotions were too vulnerable sitting this close to him.

He turned towards her, leaning his arm on the top of the piano. ‘I’m sorry if I embarrassed you earlier,’ he spoke gruffly. ‘Fergus had mentioned his little cousin to me,’ he shrugged. ‘And I—–’

‘It’s all right,’ she hastily dismissed. ‘I am little.’

His lips curved into a gentle smile. ‘How old are you?’

‘Seventeen,’ she supplied reluctantly,

His eyes widened, and she realised she had surprised him. How old had he thought she was, for goodness’ sake!

‘Two days ago,’ she added heavily.

Again his eyes widened. ‘I had no idea… I should have brought you something,’ he shrugged.

‘Why?’ She blinked up at him, fascinated by how clear a blue his eyes were this close, his lashes thick and dark.

He frowned slightly, staring back at her, both of them suddenly breathing very shallowly. ‘Lise—–’ He began to shake his head.

She moved slightly closer to him on the bench-seat. ‘If you really want to give me a present…’ she prompted breathlessly.

‘Yes?’ The slightly up-and-down movement of his chest as he breathed almost brought him into contact with her breasts.

She blinked once, closer still. ‘You could kiss me,’ she encouraged huskily.

He moved back slightly. ‘No, Lise, I—–’ He couldn’t protest any more because she had launched herself into his arms, her arms about his neck as she kissed him with all the love inside her she had just discovered for him.

It was wonderful, his lips warm and firm beneath her own. She clung to him mindlessly, totally unprepared for the way his hand dug into her nape as he threaded his fingers into her plait there and dragged her painfully away from him.

His eyes glittered down into hers, his mouth a taut line. ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’ he rasped.

Consternation washed over her as she became completely aware of exactly what she had done. This man was here as Fergus’s guest, had shown her politeness but nothing else, and she had just thrown herself at him!

His expression softened as he saw the tears glistening in her eyes. ‘You should have waited for the invitation, little one,’ he told her softly. ‘This is the way I like to kiss.’ He gently parted her lips before lowering his head to hers, the way he kissed so much more than the tight-lipped caress she had given him.

As his lips continued to move against hers she felt as if she had become a part of him, melded to him, following his lead, realising that until this moment she had known nothing about a kiss at all. She felt as if she were being consumed!

He moved back abruptly as Fergus and Terri could be heard returning up the stairs. ‘Happy birthday,’ he murmured gruffly, standing up to move away from her, his hands thrust into his denims pockets as he stared out across the countryside.

‘Think you’ll be able to stand the quiet for another couple of weeks?’ Terri drawled, moving to stand next to him, handing him an open can of beer.

He turned to her slightly. ‘I was brought up in Alberta, on a wheat farm my parents refuse to leave. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being a country boy,’ he added a little wistfully.

Lise just sat and watched him, his profile firm and dominant in the last of dusk’s shadows. Her heart was pounding, her hands trembling. Quinn Taylor had just kissed her. Oh, she had asked him to, and the first time she had taken the initiative, but that last kiss Quinn had controlled completely. If Fergus and Terri hadn’t returned when they had…

‘Here you are, Squirt.’ Fergus handed her a can of Coke, sitting beside her on the piano bench. ‘Mum says you ought to be going in,’ he added regretfully. ‘You have an early start in the morning.’

She looked uncomfortably at Quinn, but he was still staring out into the rapidly darkening night. Maybe he hadn’t heard her being ordered to bed as if she were still a little girl; she certainly hoped so!

But her aunt was right about the early start. She had been helping her uncle with his summer crops during her break between finishing school and starting college when the new term began. Farm work was long and hard, but her uncle needed the help, and the money he was able to pay her was more than welcome. Just last week she had bought another Quinn Taylor album with some of her wages.

‘I’ll go in now,’ she nodded, smoothing down her dress as she stood up. ‘Goodnight, Terri,’ she called to the other girl. ‘Goodnight—Quinn.’ She refused to call him Mr Taylor after he had kissed her so thoroughly.

The bleakness left his eyes as he turned to her. ‘Goodnight, Lise,’ he returned gruffly.

She smiled at him shyly. ‘I—I’ll see you tomorrow.’

He nodded abruptly, his expression giving away none of his thoughts.

‘How about a kiss goodnight, Squirt?’ Fergus teased as she would have turned to leave.

For a moment she looked at Quinn blankly, and then she realised Fergus wanted her to kiss him goodnight, not the other man.

‘Of course.’ Embarrassed colour darkened her cheeks as she bent to kiss her cousin on the cheek. ‘Goodnight, Fergus.’ She smiled at him shakily.

‘’Night, button.’ He returned the smile.

She and Fergus had always been the best of friends, her cousin feeling none of the resentment towards her that so many other children might have done when a new baby suddenly invades their home, especially as that baby wasn’t actually a brother or sister. Or maybe it was because of that, because he had always realised she would never usurp his place with his parents. Whatever the reason Fergus had always loved her, always protected her. He couldn’t possibly realise that he had just introduced her to the biggest danger she had ever known in her young life!

She was in love, irrevocably, and Quinn hadn’t kissed her as if he hated her either.

Her aunt and uncle were still in the lounge, and she bade them a dreamy goodnight, making her way slowly up to bed, glancing longingly towards the closed door of the guest bedroom that she knew Quinn would be occupying later tonight. Only a wall would separate them, her room next to his. Would he think of her, and that kiss they had shared, as she thought of him?

Quinn Taylor, the man she had fantasised about for years, had kissed her, actually kissed her, Lise Morrison.

No one would ever believe it. She didn’t believe it!

She danced around her bedroom in delight, as light as a butterfly, for once not minding that she was so tiny, and not quite as slim as she might have been. Quinn hadn’t seemed to mind, so why should she?

Of course, if he wanted her to slim, she would. She would do anything he wanted her to, anything. She belonged to him now, wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. And he wanted her too, she was sure of it.

She danced around the bedroom again, singing to herself, feeling as light as air, discarding one nightdress after another as she realised each was too childish for her to wear. She wasn’t a child any longer, she was a woman, and in future she was going to act and dress like one.

The first thing she was going to do was throw out all her old clothes, she couldn’t go around looking like a child when a man like Quinn Taylor wanted her.

As a first step towards changing the clothes she wore she wasn’t going to wear anything to sleep in in future; sleeping nude certainly ought to be mature enough!

She came to an abrupt halt as she wondered if Quinn slept nude too, her heart pounding in her chest as she envisaged him lying beneath a sheet, his nakedness clearly defined beneath the flimsy covering. His skin would be dark; the little she had seen of it had been. He would be tanned all over, firm flesh, taut muscles, with a feline beauty. She had goose-bumps just thinking about Quinn lying in bed!

She moved to the window, her bedroom overlooking the yard, staring across at the music-room, able to see Quinn as he laughed and talked with Fergus and Terri. He would be coming to bed soon himself, for the three of them were even now clearing up the debris from the evening.

Lise was filled with such a longing to be with Quinn tonight, wanted him so badly she trembled at the thought of lying in his arms. But Terri would be sharing her room for the night, and she dared not risk the other woman realising she had gone to Quinn. Perhaps after Terri had gone to Fergus…

She deliberately pretended to already be asleep when the other girl came to bed, keeping her back firmly turned towards the room, knowing that once Terri was sure no one would hear her she would creep across the hallway to Fergus’s room for the night. Her aunt and uncle wouldn’t hear of Fergus sleeping with his girlfriend under their roof, but Lise had known for some time that Terri crept out of their bedroom as soon as she was sure the rest of the family were asleep. And tonight when Terri went to Fergus she intended going to Quinn.

She could hear him in the next room now, not all that well, because the walls of this old cottage were thick, but she knew the man she loved was just through the thickness of that wall. What a surprise he was going to get when she went to him…!

Just over half an hour later all that could be heard in the room was the steady tick-tock of Lise’s bedside clock. Her breathing sounded abnormally loud to her in the silence of the night, but only she seemed aware of it, Terri moving about the room putting on her robe.

‘Lise?’ she prompted softly, testingly.

She didn’t move, although her heart seemed to be pounding very loudly too.

‘Lise?’ Terri called again, sighing her satisfaction as Lise remained turned away from her, seemingly asleep.

She waited only seconds after the door closed behind the other girl before quickly getting out of bed herself, shivering slightly in her nude state; sleeping without clothes on was certainly going to take some getting used to! The coolness of these cottages wasn’t meant for sleeping nude. She gratefully pulled on her robe, belting it before going out into the hallway, moving stealthily to the door next to hers, coming to a freezing halt as she heard Quinn talking to someone inside his room, the door not quite closed properly.

‘—told you in London, this has to stop,’ Quinn was saying firmly.

‘Because of Fergus,’ Terri acknowledged softly. ‘But he doesn’t have to know, does he?’ she dismissed.

Terri was in Quinn’s room. Lise couldn’t believe it. Terri had gone to Quinn, not to Fergus!

She couldn’t move, could hardly breathe, shocked to the core of her being.

Quinn sighed. ‘He’s a friend of mine—–’

‘I won’t tell him if you don’t,’ Terri taunted seductively.

‘He’s expecting you to go to him—–’

‘I’ll just tell him Lise made a little pest of herself by not falling asleep in time,’ Terri said callously. ‘She is a little pest, isn’t she, Quinn?’ she added derisively. ‘The poor little thing can hardly keep her hands off you!’

‘Terri—–’

‘Don’t try and tell me you found her adoration cute—or acceptable,’ Terri dismissed with a throaty laugh. ‘We both know your opinion of star-struck little kids like her. You like a woman in your arms and your bed. And we both know that I’m very much a woman, don’t we, Quinn?’ she prompted huskily.

‘Obviously you’re a woman. But—–’

‘Let me show you how much of a woman I am,’ Terri cut in seductively.

The silence that followed her statement broke Lise out of her horrified trance as she realised exactly how Terri must be showing Quinn.

She couldn’t get back to her bedroom fast enough, leaning weakly back against the door, her breathing ragged.

Terri and Quinn. Quinn was making love to the other woman while his friend, and Terri’s lover, slept unsuspectingly across the hallway!

She had believed Quinn was attracted to her because he let her kiss him, because he had shown her what a proper kiss between a man and a woman could be, and all the time he was sleeping with his friend’s girlfriend behind his back. Maybe Terri’s presence here as Fergus’s girlfriend had even been the reason he had been so agreeable to the suggestion that he stay here.

As for Quinn finding her attractive, that was laughable. Maybe he and Terri would indeed laugh later when he told her how Lise had thrown herself at him in the music-room!

She gave a sudden shiver, realising how cold she was standing here in just her robe, and, taking one of the cotton nightgowns that buttoned to the throat from her drawer, she pulled it on quickly, no longer eager to become a woman.

Oh God, Quinn wasn’t a Prince Charming at all, he was the Prince who woke Sleeping Beauty with a single kiss, who opened her eyes to all that was ugly in the world.

She might not want to be a woman any more, but she knew for certain that she would never again be that trustingly naïve child who believed in fairy-tales. In men like Quinn Taylor…

.

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