The bestselling Coltrane saga continues with Travis and Kitty’s son, Colt.
The Coltrane Saga, Book 4
Colt’s long-lost half-sister Dani was raised somewhere in Europe, and he hasn’t seen her in fourteen years. But now he has to find her in order to learn what she plans to do with her share of the family fortune. Too bad the evil and conniving Gavin Mason has found someone to impersonate Dani so he can get his hands on the money.
Briana de Paul is willing to go along with the ruse because she needs help for her ailing brother. But it is forbidden love at first sight between Colt and Briana, as he struggles to keep his desire under control. However, one moon-swept night, they yield to their passion, and Briana is forced to admit how she tricked him into believing they were kin.
On a quest to find the real Dani before Mason can, Colt and Briana are swept from the rugged deserts of Nevada to forbidden Parisian nights, from the wintry Alps to magnificent Monaco mansions, where they suffer untold danger and incredible intrigue as they fight for a love that no man can destroy.
This book was originally published by Avon Books in September 1986.
Copyright © 2012 Patricia Hagan
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Silver Butte, Nevada
Colt sat behind the large mahogany desk, gazing balefully at all the papers in front of him. His mother had always taken care of Coltrane business matters. His father hated what he called “inside chores”. Colt concurred. He’d much rather have been outdoors, doing nearly anything else.
He reached for the bottle of brandy and poured another glass, reminding himself that these chores were his now—along with every other Coltrane responsibility, now that his parents had left for France.
He sipped the brandy and looked around the study. The rest of the two-story house reflected his mother’s taste, but the study was strictly his father’s. It was filled with comfortable sofas and chairs, plain draperies at the long windows, and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with Travis’s war memorabilia. A stone fireplace ran the entire length of one wall.
There were trophies mounted here and there, souvenirs of many hunting trips. Colt’s mother had hated those, he recalled. She said every time she walked into the study she felt the sad, forlorn eyes of the deer looking directly at her for sympathy.
He leaned back in the soft leather chair and propped his booted feet on the desk. He’d spent a long day riding the range that bordered the Carson River. He was tired, and after eating the dinner the Mexican cook had prepared for him, would have liked nothing better than to go to bed, but the blasted paperwork awaited him. He’d been putting it off for as long as possible, but it wouldn’t go away.
Colt thought about the house, not for the first time. What in the world was he going to do with a fourteen-room mansion? It was a far cry from the two-room cabin they’d lived in when he was a child. There was a sweeping front porch, and there were pillars and marble steps. On the first floor there was, besides the study, a grand entrance foyer, a large formal dining room, and a smaller dining room for family gatherings. There were two parlors as well, a formal one and a family one, each with an ornate fireplace. Also on the first floor was a small room for Kitty to do her sewing and studying. She was forever reading about the latest medical developments.
The kitchen was at the rear of the house, connected by a long, enclosed porch, where Kitty lovingly tended her many flowers and plants. Guiltily, Colt reminded himself yet again to water them all.
Upstairs, his parents had large, adjoining bedrooms, each with its private dressing room. They had told him he could move into either one, now that he had the house to himself, but he preferred the room he’d always had, at the far end of the hallway. Between his room and his parents’ rooms were three guest rooms. One, of course, was meant for Dani. She had lived there only for a couple of years.
He sighed. Colt wasn’t sure how he felt about the half sister he hadn’t seen in thirteen years. True, they’d had that vicious fight the day she left, but they’d been children, and he held no grudge there. What he did resent was that Dani had been able to turn her back on their father. In all the years of her estrangement, there hadn’t even been a letter from her.
Colt thought about the conversation he’d had with his father the night before his parents left for France, when Travis went over the, papers the family lawyer had prepared, documents that divided the silver mine and the ranch equally between Colt and Dani. Travis and Kitty had enough money to live on comfortably for the rest of their lives without the mine or the ranch.
Colt figured it was his father’s property, to do with as he pleased. If he wanted to give half of it to a daughter who didn’t give a damn about him, well, Colt just kept his mouth shut. Still, he couldn’t help wondering how long it would be before Dani showed up to claim her share…while he Colt, did all the work.
The silver mine was not worth what it had once been due, in part, to the federal government’s limiting the role of silver in the monetary system in recent years. As silver prices declined, a lot of mines had closed down. Bustling mine towns became ghost towns. Silver Butte, once the biggest mining camp in the West, had simmered down and was now a respectable town like many others.
What had kept the Coltrane family from suffering, and also made them very rich, was Travis’s wisdom in not depending solely on his silver mine for income. Travis threw himself into cattle raising, building up a large herd, and he’d been very successful despite unpredictable beef prices, high railroad rates, and several severe winters.
All of that had been dropped in Colt’s lap. Oh, sure, he knew what to do. He’d worked the ranch and mine since he was old enough to hold a rope or a pickax. But he’d never expected to run it all, far from it. In fact, he’d been planning to hit the trail, travel the country for a few years, try to satisfy an itch for wanderlust.
Well, he told himself grimly, that had certainly changed. Suddenly he had more responsibility than he’d ever dreamed of.He felt trapped, truth to tell, and there was nothing he could do about it.
Hell, he might as well be married. He poured himself another drink and shook his head adamantly. Charlene had almost quit trying to rope him in after the talk he’d had with her in New York. Then she heard the news about Kitty and Travis leaving, how he’d have to settle down and take care of things, and she’d started right in again. He did not want to hurt her, so he had almost stopped going to see her. Damn it, he didn’t want to get married. Not yet, anyhow.
He leaned forward and started looking through the papers. It was the end of the month, so tomorrow he’d have to go into town to draw the payroll for the hired hands. Maybe he’d just stay in town awhile. He could use a good time…
He froze, then leaped to his feet, drawing his pistol. Someone was walking in the hall. He doused the lantern on the desk and positioned himself directly in front of the door, waiting.
Two sounds broke the tense silence: the creak of the door opening…and the ominous click of his gun hammer.