Holt Harrison Hamilton, aging playboy and unscrupulous oil tycoon, hires her to assist him in writing a biography of his late wife, flamboyant actress Sarah Clarke. It seems the perfect summer job, in a perfect setting, a luxurious ranch in far West Texas.
Too soon the mystery and intrigue that surround this isolated utopia begin to unravel. Zoë is caught in a web of deceit and lies, and fighting a dangerous attraction to the one man she has no right to claim.
He had no right to let another woman touch him so intimately. Zoë caught her bottom lip between her teeth and fought for control. The man was her stepson. A taboo as old as mankind forbade such thoughts.
Clint’s searching gaze swept around the ballroom until he spotted Zoë and Carter. With the gliding strides of a lobo wolf, he came across the dance floor with Amy hanging onto his arm for dear life. He didn’t slow his pace until he stood beside the little table.
With no regard for social amenities or polite exchanges, he announced, “Outside, Carter. I want to talk to you in private.”
Without waiting for an answer, he turned to Amy. “You will excuse me while I talk to your brother?” What had been framed as a question was in truth a command.
Carter’s voice was caustic. “Good evening, Clint, Amy. Would you like to join us?”
Amy moved toward the table. Clint caught her arm. “I’m waiting, Fields.”
Carter reached across the table and took Zoë’s hand. “Go away, Clint.”
Amy intervened. “Please, Carter, humor him or he’ll be in a mood all night, and I want to have fun.”
Carter stood and pushed back his chair. “Excuse me, Zoë. This won’t take long.”
Zoë nodded her acceptance. What else could she do?
The two men made their way toward the back entrance, Clint’s broad shoulders and superior height dwarfing Carter’s smaller stature and slim build. It was not fair for any man to have the commanding presence that was an innate part of Clinton McCann.
Amy sat in Carter’s chair and signaled for a waiter. “Would you like something to drink, Mrs. Hamilton… Zoë?”
Zoë shook her head. “I’m not thirsty.”
The waiter put a drink in front of Amy and hurried away. “Well, I am. Clint is in one of his moods tonight.” Her incredibly long lashes fell to cover her almond-shaped eyes. “He’s such a possessive person, always ordering everyone around.” A seductive smile touched her cherry- red mouth. “That has its advantages at times.”
This woman made Zoë sick to her stomach. I don’t know Clint very well.”
“You didn’t know Holt very well either, but you married him.” Amy’s manicured nails touched the rim of her glass.
Zoë’s reply was indifferent to the point of being rude. “My marriage to Holt is none of your business.”
A hidden dimple near Amy’s mouth emerged when she smirked. “It was only an observation. Your remarkable resemblance to Sarah must have had something to do with Holt’s proposing so soon after he met you.” An icy coolness frosted her tinkling voice. “How well did you know Sarah?”
Zoë answered in an equally cool voice. “I didn’t know Sarah at all.”
“But you’ve seen all her movies?” Amy asked, and then said, “Of course you have. You’re an avid movie buff.” Her slim fingers played around the stem of her glass. “You have acquired so many of her mannerisms. Sarah had a certain way of turning her head when she smiled that you mimic to perfection. And you’ve mastered that graceful, expressive fluttering of your hands when you speak that is so reminiscent of Sarah.”
A sip of water eased the dryness in Zoë’s throat. “Sarah is not someone I admire or aspire to be like.”
Amy shrugged. “I didn’t like Sarah either, but I admired her and respected her. She knew what she wanted, and she went after it. That’s a quality I admire in a woman.” She took a dainty sip of her drink. “Sarah was never friendly with me, but that doesn’t mean you and I can’t be friends. After all, when Clint and I are married, you’ll be my stepmother-in-law.”
Zoë’s facade of indifference crumbled. “You and Clint are engaged?”
“It’s more of an agreement than an engagement.” Amy glanced over Zoë’s shoulder toward the door. “Our men are returning.” Her long nails creased the wet circles on the tablecloth. “You must be a year or so younger than I, and you will be my mother-in-law.” Her shrill laughter shattered like broken glass against Zoë’s nerves. “I find that odd and a little amusing.”
Buy Forbidden or other books by Barri Bryan at her author page.