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Published by AltheaDaraDavid

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Published by: AltheaDaraDavid on Jun 30, 2012
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THE LITTLEST MARINE Maureen ChildContents: 123456789101112EpilogueChapter 1The maid of honor and the best man were barely speaking. Other than that, the rehearsal of therehearsal dinner seemed to be a success.Still, Elizabeth Stone thought, nowhere was it written that as maid of honor she
to like the bestman."So—" her sister, Terry, leaned in close to her and whispered beneath the hum of conversation aroundthem "—what do you think of him? Wasn't I right? Isn't he perfect for you?"The "he" being Harding Casey, best man, career Marine and the source of the jitters rattling around inthe pit ofElizabeth's stomach.She reached for her wineglass, took a slow sip of white Zinfandel,then answered in as low pitched avoice as possible. "I'm trying
to think about him.""Ooooh," the younger woman said as her eyebrows arched high on her forehead. "Sounds promising."Frowning slightly,Elizabethset her wineglass down and told herself that it was useless to argue withher sister over this. For almost a year, Terry had been trying to set her up with Harding Casey, herfiancé Mike's best friend. This little gathering was as close as she had come to succeeding."Look," Terry said quietly, "you two are going to be together practically every day for the next week.
Page 1 of 96ABC Amber LIT Converter9/13/2007file://C:\Documents and Settings\Danna\My Documents\Azureus Downloads\Harlequin\H...
Wouldn't it make more sense if you at least tried to like him?""Now that you bring it up,"Elizabethsaid, half turning in her seat to face her sister squarely. "I stilldon't understand why I have to spend all week with the man.
the one getting married.""Yeah…" Terry's expression went soft and dreamy, and despite the fact thatElizabethhad no real desireof her own to get married, a small sliver of envy pierced her heart. What would it be like, shewondered, to feel what Terry so obviously felt for Mike?In the next instant, though, she remembered that she wasn't interested in finding a man. She had herown life. A successfulone, thanks very much, and she was already happy. Why should she go outlooking for someone who would only require her to make all kinds of changes in what she considereda darn near perfect existence?With that thought firmly in mind, she prodded her sister. "Terry, you know I'm delighted to be yourmaid of honor, but—""No
," she interrupted. "You promised that you would help out, Lizzie.""Sure, but why—""There's no way I can do all of the little things that have to be done this week." Terry leaned forwardand clutched her sister's hand. "Come on, Lizzie. You can handle Harding for one little week, can'tyou?"There was a challenge if ever she'd heard one. GrimlyElizabethshot a covert glance at the man acrossfrom her. Black hair, cut into a military, "high and tight" haircut, strong jaw, straight nose, well-shapedmouth, and eyes blue enough to make Paul Newman's look a dingy gray. Standing up, he was six-feet-five inches of solid muscle, had a voice deep enough to cause earthquakes and made her stomach pitchwith nerves and expectation with a single glance. Sure. She could handle him. No problem.Lordy, she was in trouble. The only thing that kept her from having some serious fantasies about theman was the uniform he wore so proudly.Muffling a sigh, she said softly, "Little sister, you should understand better than anyone else why Idon't want anything to do with a military type."Terry did nothing to hide her grumble of frustration. "Honestly, Lizzie, you would think you grew upmanacled to a wall.""Yeah. A wall that was reassigned every two or three years."Elizabeth, known as "Lizzie" only to her family, had hated growing up as a Marine brat. Shifting fromplace to place, moving wherever their father's orders had taken them. Never really at home. Makingnew friends only to leave them behind. The one constant in her life … the one friend she had alwaysbeen able to count on was Terry. Her sister. Who had grown up to fall in love with aMarine. But atleast Terry's soon-to-be husband had left the Corps.Harding Casey—Hard Case to his friends, looked like a lifer to her.Page 2 of 96ABC Amber LIT Converter9/13/2007file://C:\Documents and Settings\Danna\My Documents\Azureus Downloads\Harlequin\H...
"You just hate the military.""No, I don't,"Elizabethsaid. "I've just served my time, that's all. You've got to be relieved that Mike leftthe Corps. Admit it.""I told him he didn't have to. It was his decision.""A good one, too."Elizabethreached for her wineglass, then rethought it and settled her hand in her lap."At least you won't be stumping all around the world like Mom did, trying to make homes out of impersonal barracks buildings.""Jeez, Lizzie—" Terry's voice dropped as she shot a quick look at the other diners to make sure no onecould hear them "—you make it all sound so ugly. We had a great family. A terrific life. We've seenplaces most people only dream about."True,Elizabeththought. All true. But while they had been traveling around the world like modern-daygypsies, allElizabethhad ever wanted was a home. A real home. One where she could stay put for morethan three years. One where she could paint the walls any color she liked and not even consider whomight be moving in after she'd gone.Apparently, whatever gypsy gene Terry had inherited from their parents hadbypassedElizabethaltogether."Yeah,"Elizabethsaid quietly. "It was terrific."Terry grinned, obviously not hearing the sarcasm. "Okay, now tell me how right I was about Harding.He
a babe, isn't he?"Babe? Oh, he was more than a babe. But there was no way she would admit as much to Terry. Sheshot Harding Casey a covert glance only to find him watching her through those incredible eyes of his.Goose bumps raced up her arms. Her heartbeat quickened, and her palms were suddenly damp. Thiswas no ordinary attraction to a handsome man. It was almost as if something inside her …
him. As if he was someone she had been waiting for.Get a grip, she told herself as the ridiculous thought took root.* * *Grab her, Harding thought. Grab her, kiss her, caress her … he shook his head slightly in a vainattempt to rid himself of the almost-overpowering impulses throbbing inside him. Impulses that hadbeen haunting him since meeting Elizabeth Stone three hours ago.Her chin length, curly brown hair seemed to tempt him to spear his fingers through it. Those evendarker brown eyes of hers mesmerized him, and he wanted to lose himself in their depths, discover hersecrets. He called on years of strict military training to hide his reaction to her figure. A body made forlounging beside a fire and quiet, private picnics on moonlit beaches. His gaze slipped lower, andHarding felt something in his chest stagger. The deep vee neckline of her red silk blousegaped a bit asshe leaned in toward her sister. He caught a fleeting glimpse of pale ivory flesh and felt his mouth godry.Page 3 of 96ABC Amber LIT Converter9/13/2007file://C:\Documents and Settings\Danna\My Documents\Azureus Downloads\Harlequin\H...

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