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Anna Spencer has a successful corporate career. She learned long ago that her psychic gifts needed to remain a secret if she didn’t want to risk ridicule, rejection, and losing those she loves. Richard Bentley, her boss, is a widower still plagued by guilt. He rented the private jet two years ago that crashed just before Thanksgiving and took his beloved wife away forever. Anna has been falling in love with Richard little by little. She is unaware that he, too, has been falling in love with her. If time heals all wounds, will he move beyond the guilt and grief that has consumed him for two years, to live and love again?When Anna is forced to use her psychic gifts at a friend’s Masquerade Ball, her secret collides with her daily reality. Richard will attend the event as his first social engagement since Eva died. Communicating with the dead is Anna’s greatest gift, and Richard’s deceased wife has messages for them both.Anna must face her fears and not let them consume her. Will he fire her if he finds out? Even worse, will she lose his respect and friendship?
AUTUMN MASQUERADE EXCERPT:
“I’m glad I can make a dream come true for you.” He leaned back in his leather swivel chair, and folded his hands behind his head. “Are you attending Judith Steel’s masquerade party?”
She froze. Oh God! “I received an invitation.”
“I’m sure you did. She always raves about you at advertising meetings.”
“Judith’s in the perfect line of work for her personality. She’s a master of the art of persuasion.” Anna reflected on her earlier conversation with the prima donna.
Richard laughed and his onyx eyes gleamed. “You’re right about that. Her advertising campaigns are sheer genius.”
Anna hadn’t seen him laugh in two years. His magnetism pulled on her core.
“Are we finished?” Anna leaned forward to collect her file. She didn’t want to wear out her welcome, and the meeting seemed to be over. Much as she’d love to stay and chat, her personal feelings for him made her self-conscious and uneasy when they were alone together.
“If you have a moment, I’d like you to help me figure something out. It’s not business-related. Is that okay?” He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his desk and ran long fingers through his thick wavy ebony hair.
He looked good. She had to swallow before she could answer.
“Of course.” Her throat constricted and the words came out in a squeak to her ears, almost choking her.
Closing his eyes, thick lashes brushed his cheeks. She could really get jealous of those lashes. Even the most expensive mascara couldn’t accomplish what nature had given him.
He stood and shoved his hands deep into his pants pockets, then turned and looked out the long windows toward the bay. “In three weeks it’ll be two years since Eva died.” He turned back towards her, eyes downcast, the bags beneath them more visible by the sun shining through translucent glass. He went to the minibar, poured himself a glass of water, and took a drink.
Anna froze. This was very personal. What a relief he was looking away. She squeezed her eyes shut to hold tears at bay.
“I’m getting lonely. In the last few weeks, I’ve wanted to get out and about more. Start living again.” He turned to her. “Is it too soon to start socializing? I want to attend Judith’s masquerade party, but would it be appropriate?”
“Grieving is very personal, so there’s no right or wrong. If you feel restless, you’re probably ready. Every moment is a gift, as you know.” She glanced sideways at Eva’s photo and thought she saw her wink. Anna blinked.
“I often wonder if Eva would still be here, if I’d taken her to New York on that business trip.” His voice sounded far away.
“Or, if you’d flown with her from home, you might have died that day, too.” Anna spoke before considering her words.
“Thanksgiving was hard last year. I’m dreading it next month, so I want to go away.” He set the glass down on the silver tray. “I’m still dealing with legal issues from the crash.”
She remembered that he had rented a ranch house in Montana for Thanksgiving. Their families had arrived, and were together when the news came that Eva’s jet went down somewhere in Montana.
“The legal stuff has been like salt in your wound, and probably kept you from getting on with your life.”
“You’re pretty wise.” He studied her for a moment. “So, will I see you at Judith’s if I decide to go?”
“You might.” Anna stood and smoothed the skirt of her magenta suit before picking up her folder. She didn’t like sounding cryptic and mysterious, but what else could she say? With any luck, he won’t recognize me!