Twin Temptation

By: Cara Summers

Prologue



IT WAS a mansion right out of the books she’d read as a child—Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Wuthering Heights.

Those were Maddie’s first fanciful thoughts when she stepped out of the limousine and got a good look at the massive stone structure. Gray and solitary, Ware House soared up three stories and boasted three turrets and a roof edged in carved stone. A man could have tucked away a crazy wife in any of those turrets, she thought a bit giddily. And the fact that the sky was lead colored and cast the front of the house in shadows only added to the illusion.But this wasn’t some English gentleman’s mysterious country home. It was the Long Island residence of the Ware family. And she was about to meet them for the first time.

A tall man who reminded her a bit of Michael Caine answered the door. He had to be a butler. His posture was ramrod-straight and his face totally expressionless. But Maddie thought she saw a flicker of surprise in his eyes before he stepped aside and said, “Come in, Ms. Farrell. Let me take your bag.” Just as if she were a regular visitor.

Still hesitating on the threshold, Maddie firmly reined in her imagination. It had rocketed into overdrive from the moment she’d received the phone call from that attorney, Edward Fitzwalter III. Gripping the strap of her purse more tightly, she stepped into the dark-paneled foyer. Since she wasn’t at all sure of her welcome, she’d asked the limo driver to wait for her. She had an escape plan in place.

“This way.” The man turned and started down a wide hallway. “The family has already gathered in the library.”

Family.

The knot of anxiety in Maddie’s stomach tightened. She was about to meet a family she hadn’t known existed until two days ago. Up until that time, she’d believed that she was the only daughter of Mike Farrell, a successful cattleman whose ranch was located about an hour north of Santa Fe. Mike had been an only child, the last of a line of ranchers, and Maddie was supposed to carry on his legacy. All her life she’d believed her mother had died when she was a baby. That was the story her father had told her…and since he’d passed away a year ago, there was no way she could ask him why he’d lied.

And according to the gruff-voiced attorney who’d called her two days ago, her father had indeed lied to her. And it had been a whopper. All these years, she’d had a mother she’d never met—a mother who’d been raised in this house and who just happened to be renowned Madison Avenue jewelry designer Eva Ware.

Oh, Maddie was very well-acquainted with the professional persona of Eva Ware. She’d studied the woman’s designs ever since she was in junior high and had first dreamed of creating her own line of Southwestern-style jewelry. Her father had known of her admiration for Eva Ware Designs, but he’d never once mentioned that the woman she’d so admired was her mother.

She was still struggling with the idea when the lawyer had told her that five days ago Eva Ware had been struck down by a hit-and-run driver.

No.

The news, shocking and unexpected, had set her head spinning. Sitting down hard on a nearby chair, she’d tried to gather her scattered thoughts as the voice on the other end of the phone droned on. Maddie had caught bits and pieces—her mother’s request…fly to New York…reading of the will…claim her inheritance.

Inheritance? She’d still been grappling with that word when the attorney had sprung another one on her. A real kicker. Sister. In addition to having a mother she’d never been aware of, she also had an uncle, a cousin and a sister—an identical twin, Jordan Ware.

For a few moments, the attorney’s voice had become nothing more than a buzz in her ear. She had a sister? A twin sister she’d been separated from since birth?

No. That was straight out of the plot a Disney movie—two of them, in fact. The Parent Trap had been one of her favorite films when she’d been a child. A memory flooded her mind of watching the older Hayley Mills/Maureen O’Hara version of the film with her father when she’d been nine or ten. And he’d never breathed a word.

No. She couldn’t accept that. Her father couldn’t have lied to her all these years. Gripping the phone as if it were a lifeline, Maddie had stood up and interrupted the man on the other end of the line. “You’re lying. If this is some kind of hoax, or some kind of scam you’re running, it won’t work.”

In a calm voice, as if he’d fully expected that reaction, he’d told her to call information and get the number of the Fitzwalter and Carnegie law firm in New York City and then to call it and ask for Edward Fitzwalter the Third. Pacing back and forth in the living room of the ranch house, she’d debated following his instructions for a full fifteen minutes.

She couldn’t, she wouldn’t believe that her father had lied to her. The man who’d called her had to be some kind of a con artist. Pausing at the window that filled one wall of the living room, she’d stared out at the land that had been in the Farrell family for five generations.

And then she’d thought of Daniel Pearson, the local real estate agent who’d been pressuring her to put the ranch on the market for the past six months. It was pretty common knowledge that ever since her father had died, she’d been struggling to run the ranch and still grow her jewelry design business. Could Mr. Fitzwalter’s call be connected to that? But how? If she had in truth inherited something from her mother, it would only help her hold on to the ranch and carry on her father’s legacy.

In the end, Maddie had succumbed to curiosity and a gut feeling that the man who’d called her was indeed Edward Fitzwalter the Third. And he had been. More than that, he’d been patient and kind enough to repeat all the information he’d given her before. He’d even told her that he’d booked an airline ticket for her on the following day. All she had to do was go to the airport and pick it up. A limousine would be waiting for her at JFK airport and it would take her to the Ware family’s estate on Long Island for the official reading of the will.

Maddie dragged her thoughts back to the present when the butler man stopped in front of a double set of paneled doors. Nerves jittered in her stomach as he turned the handles and pushed them open.

Still on the threshold, Maddie let her gaze sweep the room. It was cavernous. Three of the four walls were packed with books. The scent of leather-bound volumes mixed with the aromas of lemon wax and lilies from the vases scattered throughout the room. Four narrow stained-glass windows took up the wall directly across from her and let in a gloomy light.

And she was stalling. Screwing up her courage, she stepped into the room and one by one met the gazes of the five people who’d turned to stare at her. She began with the mustached and balding man who was sitting at the desk. She guessed him to be Edward Fitzwalter the Third. Then Maddie looked to the three people seated to the left of the desk.

Fitzwalter had given her a thumbnail sketch of each member of the Ware family. The handsome gray-haired man in the red leather chair must be Carleton Ware, Eva’s brother. Carleton wasn’t involved in Eva Ware Designs. He ran the Ware Bank, which had been established by his great-great-grandfather and whose branches were scattered all over Long Island. Carleton, his wife and son resided year round at Ware house. Eva, though she’d inherited half of the house, had lived in New York City. Carleton’s hazel eyes were cool and assessing as they met hers. The younger man seated to his right had to be her cousin Adam. He had wavy, chestnut-colored hair that he wore long and tucked behind his ears. His brown eyes held hostility.

According to Mr. Fitzwalter, Adam was very involved in Eva Ware Designs. He’d gone to work there right after college and he’d been trained by Eva from the time he was in high school. Fitzwalter had described Adam’s mother Dorothy, the woman seated to Carleton’s left, as a society matron with a very active social life both on Long Island and in Manhattan. She served on several charitable boards and spearheaded fundraisers for institutions like the Museum of Modern Art. She was a tall slender woman with a model’s figure. Her gaze was several degrees cooler than her husband’s, and superiority radiated off her in waves. Dorothy Ware’s perfectly coiffed brown hair and impeccably tailored black suit had Maddie feeling underdressed.

Growing up on a ranch had never allowed her much time to spend on fashion, and her khaki slacks, embroidered denim jacket and leather ankle boots were perfectly acceptable business attire in Santa Fe. She shifted her attention to the small Chinese man sitting farthest away from the attorney. He had to be Eva’s longtime assistant, Cho Li. He wore his long black hair pulled back into a ponytail, and it had begun to thin on top. According to Fitzwalter, Cho Li had been with Eva even before she’d opened her Madison Avenue store. When he nodded his head and smiled at her, she finally found the courage to turn to the one familiar face in the room—Jordan Ware’s.

On the long flight from Santa Fe, she’d imagined this moment so many ways. But she hadn’t anticipated the swift punch of recognition in her belly or the instant sense of connection. For a second she couldn’t quite catch her breath. It wasn’t like looking in a mirror—not exactly. In the dove-gray suit and turquoise blouse, Jordan looked as though she’d stepped right out of a fashion magazine, making Maddie feel even more the country bumpkin.

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