Cover image for Riley in the morning
Riley in the morning
Brown, Sandra, 1948-
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
New York : Random House Large Print, 2001.

Physical Description:
246 pages (large print) ; 22 cm
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X Adult Large Print Large Print
X Adult Large Print - Floating collection Floating Collection - Large Print

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She had left him seven months earlier without an explanation.  Now, just as Brin Cassidy is preparing for the biggest dinner party of her career, who should show up unannounced on her doorstep but her handsome, estranged husband, Jon Riley. As the former producer of the popular television program "Riley in the Morning," Brin had not only worked with the tempermental blue-eyed star, she had also married him.  Their tempestuous, passionate affair was the stuff romances were made why did Brin leave him?  She knows in her heart that she owes Riley an explanation, but she isn't ready to face him- or herself.  But Riley is a man who knows what he wants, and usually gets it.  And tonight, he isn't leaving without a few answers. From dusk until dawn the two will relive their explosive relationship in a night filled with passion and revelation.  Only when the final secret is revealed will it be clear whether a future exists for Riley in the morning...

Author Notes

Sandra Brown began her writing career in 1980. After selling her first book, she wrote a succession of romance novels under several pseudonyms, most of which remain in print. She has become one of the country's most popular novelists, earning the notice of Hollywood and of the critics. More than 60 of her books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. There are eighty million copies of her books in print, and her work has been translated into thirty-four languages. Prior to writing, she worked in commercial television as an on-air personality for PM Magazine and local news in Dallas. The parents of two, she and her husband now divide their time between homes in Texas and South Carolina.

(Publisher Provided) Sandra Lynn Brown (born 12 March 1948 in Waco, Texas) is an American bestselling author of romantic novels and thriller suspense novels. Brown has also published works under the pen names of Rachel Ryan, Laura Jordan, and Erin St. Claire. Brown began her writing career in 1980. After selling her first book, Love's Encore, she wrote a succession of romance novels under several pseudonyms, most of which remain in print. Prior to writing, she worked in commercial television as an on-air personality for PM Magazine and local news in Dallas.

Brown has written over 70 books including Mirror Image; French Silk; The Switch; The Crush; Hello, Darkness; Chill Factor; Play Dirty; Smoke Screen; and Smash Cut. She has received numerous awards including the Distinguished Circle of Success from the American Business Women's Association in 1992, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the romance Writers of America in 1998, and the Texas Medal of Arts Award for Literature in 2007. Sandra Brown frequently appears on the bestseller lists. Recently she's appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List with Deadline, Chill Factor and Mean Streak (2014), Friction (2015) and Tough Customer (2016).

(Bowker Author Biography)

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Library Journal Review

Out of print in paperback and now available in hardcover for the first time, this romance recounts one night of fierce battle between Brin Cassidy and the husband she abandoned. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One "Ms. Cassidy, dear?" "Yes?" "So sorry, darling, but your table simply isn't large enough." "Damn," Brin muttered under her breath as she struggled with the zipper at the back of her dress. She twisted around to check in the mirror what was causing it to stick. When she turned, an electric curler slid out of her hair, leaving a heavy strand to fall over her eye. She shoved it off her face, looping it around one of the hair-curler pins that radiated from her head like a space-age halo. "Arrange everything as best you can, Stewart. Has the bartender arrived yet?" "I have arranged everything as best I can," he said petulantly. "You need a larger table." Brin's arms fell heavily to her sides. Glancing at the harried image in the mirror, one eye artfully made up, the other as yet untouched, she called herself a fool for hostessing this party in the first place. She had timed everything down to the second. She didn't need any kinks in the tight schedule, such as a stuck zipper and a querulous caterer. Turning, she flung open the bathroom door and confronted Stewart, who stood with his pale hands on his hips, wearing an expression just as sour as hers. "I don't have a larger table," Brin said irritably. "Let's see what we can do. Is the bartender here yet?" On stocking feet she hurried through the bedroom, down the stairs, and into the dining room, where a buffet was being set up. Her dress was slipping off her shoulders, but then, there was no need to be too concerned about modesty in front of Stewart. Two of his assistants were standing by, arms crossed idly over their chests, as though waiting for a bus. She shot them exasperated looks that didn't faze them in the slightest. "Jackie said he'd be here by now," Stewart said of the missing bartender. "I can't imagine what's keeping him. We're extremely close." "Why doesn't that make me feel better?" Brin spoke the question under her breath as she studied the table. The food on the silver trays was attractively arranged and lavishly garnished, but the trays were jammed together, overlapping in places. Some extended over the edges of the table. Stewart might be difficult and aggravating, but he knew his stuff, and she couldn't argue with him. "You're right, we'll have to do some rearranging." "It's that ghastly centerpiece," Stewart said, pointing with distaste. "You should have let me select the flowers. Remember I told you--" "I remember, I remember, but I wanted to choose my own florist." "Can't we remove the thing? Or at least let me rearrange it so it isn't so ... so..." He made a descriptive gesture with his hands. "You're not to touch it. I paid a hundred dollars for it." "You get what you pay for," he said snidely. She faced him angrily, hooking the errant strand of hair around another pin when it slipped from the first. "This has nothing to do with money. The florist happens to be a friend of mine, and she's been in the business longer than you've been alive." I must be agitated, Brin thought. Why am I standing here arguing with smug Stewart, when I'm only half dressed and forty guests are due to arrive at any moment? She returned her attention to the crowded table. "Can you leave some of the trays in the kitchen and replace the ones on the table as they empty?" Stewart's hand fluttered to his chest and his mouth fell open in horror. "Absolutely not! My darling, these dishes are planned to alternately soothe and excite the palate. They're a blend of tart and--" "Oh, for heaven's sake!" Brin cried. "Who will know in what order their palates are supposed to be soothed or excited? These people will just want to eat. I doubt they'll pay attention to anything except whether the food tastes good or not." Gnawing her cheek in concentration, she scanned the table again. "All right," she said, her mind made up, "set that bowl of marinated shrimp on the coffee table in the living room. Have a cup of toothpicks nearby. And you," she said, pointing to one of the indolent assistants, "move that cheese tray over there by the bar. I think there's room for that chafing dish of Swedish meatballs on the table by the sofa. That should make room on the table." The three young men rolled their eyes at one another. "You're a gastronomical philistine of the worst sort," Stewart said snippishly. "Just do it. And where's that bartender you promised me? Nothing's set up." "He'll be here." "Well, he'd better be here soon, or I'm going to start deducting from your bill." The doorbell chimed. "See?" Stewart said loftily. "No cause for panic. That's him now." He swished toward the front door before Brin had a chance to. "Who are you?" The disembodied voice asking the rude question was deep and demanding. Brin recognized the voice immediately and felt the earth drop out from under her. "Oh my dear, I'm positively dying!" Stewart cried theatrically, his hands aflutter. "I can't believe it. She didn't tell me you would be among the party guests." "What the hell are you talking about? What party?" the voice asked in a surly growl. "Where's Brin?" She forced herself into motion and went toward the door, stepping in the line of vision of the man standing on the threshold. "Thank you, Stewart," she said quietly. "I believe you have work to do." She was amazed at how calm she sounded. On the inside, chaos reigned: Her vital organs were doing backward somersaults; her knees had turned the consistency of Stewart's famous tomato aspic; all the blood had drained from her head. But outwardly she presented a facade of aloofness that should have won her an Oscar at least. After Stewart had moved out of earshot, she looked at the man. "What are you doing here, Riley?" "Just thought I'd drop by." He propped his shoulder against the doorjamb and let his eyes -- damn those blue eyes -- drift over her. He seemed amused by the curlers in her hair, the unfastened dress she was having a hard time keeping up, and her stockinged feet. "Well, you should have called before you came, because you couldn't have picked a more inconvenient time. You'll have to excuse me. I have guests due to arrive in a few minutes. I haven't finished my makeup--" "That's not a kinky new fad? Making up just one eye?" "--or touched my hair," she finished, ignoring his teasing. "The bartender hasn't shown up yet. And the caterer is being a colossal pain." "Sounds like you need help." He shoved his way inside before Brin could stammer a protest. "You guys have everything under control?" he asked the three caterers, who were staring at him in awe. "Everything's perfect, absolutely perfect, Mr. Riley," Stewart gushed. "Can we get you anything?" "Riley," Brin ground out between her teeth. "Hmm?" He turned around, supremely unconcerned about her apparent agitation. "May I see you alone? Please." "What, now?" "Now." "Sure, honey. The bedroom?" "The kitchen." She walked stiffly past the three gaping caterers, saying, "Carry on," in as firm a voice as she could muster. Angrily she pushed open the swinging door and stepped into the kitchen. She usually liked this room, with its classic black-and-white-checked tile floor, its spacious countertops, and well-arranged appliances. Tonight it was cluttered with party paraphernalia, but she didn't notice any of it as she pivoted to face the man who was barely two steps behind her. "Riley, what are you doing here?" She repeated the question with undisguised asperity. "I wanted to see you." "After seven months?" "Has it been only seven months?" "And you chose tonight by chance?" "How was I supposed to know you were giving a party?" "You could have called." "It was a spur-of-the-moment decision." "Isn't everything you do?" He frowned, and she drew a deep breath. No sense in getting unpleasant. "How did you know where I was living?" "I knew." His eyes slowly took in the kitchen and the twilit view beyond the wide windows. "A Russian Hill address. I'm impressed." "Don't be. I'm house-sitting. A friend of mine went to Europe for two years." "Anybody I know?" "No, I don't think so. She's an old school chum." Brin guarded against looking at him. When she looked at him, her eyes got greedy and wanted to take in every detail. She wouldn't punish herself that way. "Lucky you. The day you walk out on me, your friend takes off for Europe. You couldn't have planned it better. Or did you plan it?" Her eyes flew up to his. "Don't start this now, Riley." "Don't you think seven months is long enough to stew about it? I want to know why my wife just checked out one day while I was at work." Uneasy, she shifted from one foot to the other. "It wasn't like that." "Then what was it like? Tell me. I want to know." "Do you?" "Yes." "Well, you've taken your sweet time to find out. The reasons behind my leaving couldn't have been very important to you. Why did you get curious tonight, after seven months? Did one of your public appearances get canceled? Did you find yourself alone and without anything spontaneous or interesting to do?" "Whew! Hitting below the belt, are we?" He socked her lightly in the tummy. Actually a little below the tummy. And well below the belt. She jumped back in alarm at the effect even that touch had on her. "Will you please leave, Riley? I have guests coming. I've got to comb out my hair. I..." Her voice faltered when he reached up and tugged sharply on the loose strand. He was smiling. "It's cute when it's all tumbled. Reminds me of what you look like when you first get out of bed." "I ... I haven't even finished dressing." His eyes slid hotly down her body, all the way to her feet. "Your toes are so sweet." "Riley." "And sexy. Remember when we discovered each other's toes and what a turn-on dallying with them can be?" "Riley!" Her fists were digging into her hips as she glared up at him. She was becoming more vexed by the moment. Vexed and aroused. "In the hot tub, wasn't it?" "Oh! There's just no talking to you." She spun on her heel and headed for the door. "I'm going upstairs. When I come down I expect you to be gone." "Wait a minute." He caught her arm and drew her up short. "Your zipper's not done up all the way. No wonder that dress keeps falling off your shoulders. Not that I'm complaining. I could make a meal out of your shoulders. Are you trying to entice me with those brief glimpses of forbidden flesh?" "Riley--" "Hold still." His hands were at her waist. His knuckles brushed the skin of her back as he struggled to work the cloth from beneath the bite of the zipper without tearing it. "You almost mangled it." "I was in a state even before you showed up." "Over a zipper?" "That was only the tip of the iceberg." "Troubles?" "Not 'troubles,' exactly. I just wanted everything to be nice tonight." "So you really are having a party." "Of course. What did you think?" "I don't know. Maybe that you were taking up with Stewart's sort." "Very funny. Aren't you done yet?" With every heartbeat it was becoming more difficult to stand still. The touch of his hands was so achingly familiar. The scent of his breath as it fanned her neck was memory-stirring, and this husbandly chore of zipping her dress reminded her of other times, happy times she had tried to forget. "Who's the party for?" "The people I work with." "At the radio station?" So he knew where she was working now. Well, that hadn't taken any great detective work on his part. It had been published in all the local newspapers. In fact there had been quite a splash in media circles when Brin Cassidy left Jon Riley and his popular morning television talk show, Riley in the Morning, to accept a job producing a radio phone-in discussion program. At the time there had been speculation on the future of their marriage, too. Living down the gossip columns, the published innuendos, the myriad invasions of privacy, had been hard to do. But that hadn't been the hardest thing. The hardest thing had been learning to live without Riley. And now he was here, near, touching her again, and it took every ounce of self-discipline she had not to turn in his arms and hold him against her. "Hurry, please, Riley." "You still haven't told me what the occasion is." "Mr. Winn's birthday." "Ah-ha. That explains the cake." He nodded toward the tiered chocolate confection on the countertop. "Haven't you fixed that zipper yet?" "So Abel Winn himself will be here. President and CEO of the Winn Company." "Do you know him?" "I've met him once or twice." He finally succeeded in wresting the fabric free of the zipper and pulled it up. He fastened the hook and eye, which was a mere six inches above her waist, and bent his knees to reduce his height. He pecked a soft kiss directly between her bare shoulder blades, as had been his habit when they had shared a house, a bed, their bodies. Brin gasped softly. Stewart sailed through the door in time to see Brin's cheeks turning pink and Riley's grin widening as he rose to his full height again. "Well," the caterer drawled, "I take it you two know each other." "He's ... uh ... he's my ... uh..." "Husband," Riley calmly supplied. "Can we help you with something?" "Husband?" Stewart squeaked. "Husband," Riley repeated, unruffled. "Weeeell." Stewart gave Brin a once-over that was catty and covetous at the same time. "What was it you wanted?" Riley asked. His brisk tone snapped the caterer to attention. "I just came to tell Mrs. Riley that--" "Ms. Cassidy," Brin corrected. "Oh, certainly, Ms. Cassidy. I'm Stewart, by the way," he said to Riley with an ingratiating smile. "Stewart." Riley nodded. "A pleasure. Yes, well, Steve and Bart have done a simply marvelous job rearranging the trays. They'll be circulating all night to make sure they're replenished. I pinched a few of the most offensive buds -- only a few, dear -- from that centerpiece. It all looks quite smashing now." "Fine," Brin said tightly, wishing with all her mind that Riley would lift his hands off her shoulders and put space between the front of his thighs and the backs of hers. Unfortunately her heart wanted no part of that wish. "It might get a bit crowded when I flamb? the Bananas Foster. I hope we don't set anyone on fire." She could feel Riley's silent chuckle vibrating through his body. "I'm sure I can trust you to be careful." "One teeny-weeny, tiny problem," Stewart added. "What?" "Jackie hasn't arrived yet. I can't imagine what got into him." "Damned if I'd hazard a guess," Riley said for her ears alone. She clamped down on her lower lip to keep from laughing out loud. A few minutes ago the absence of the bartender had sent her into a tailspin. Now that seemed a mild crisis, too insignificant to worry about. What she had to cope with now was the thrill that zinged through her every time she felt the front of Riley's trousers brush against her buttocks. "We'll make do, Stewart." "The boys wanted me to ask, is he staying?" He pointed to Riley. "Yes." "No." They answered in unison, Riley in the affirmative, Brin in the negative. "Oh, I just adore sticky little situations like this," Stewart cooed. "This isn't a sticky little situation. Will you please excuse us? We'll give you back the kitchen in just a moment," Brin said by way of dismissal. "Of course." He left, after winking at her and blowing Riley a kiss. Brin did an about-face with military precision. "You can't stay, Riley. I'm asking you to leave." "You need me." She wondered if that statement carried a double meaning but decided it didn't when he added, "To tend bar." "One of Stewart's assistants can do that." "You heard him. Steve and Bart will be circulating all night." "Then I'll handle it." "The hostess? Don't be ridiculous. And Stewart is out because he'll be handling the food and pinching offensive buds. But if he tries to flamb? my banana, I'll punch him out." She gritted her teeth to keep from laughing. Dammit, she didn't want Riley to be funny and charming. She sure didn't want him to smile that slow, sexy smile or look at her with those eyes that were so achingly, beautifully blue. "Face it, Brin. You haven't got a choice. Now, get your adorable tush upstairs and finish dressing. Brush out your hair. Give the lashes on your left eye a lick of the mascara wand and let me take over down here. Oh, and don't forget your shoes." Her father had always said that a good soldier knew when to surrender with dignity. Brin recognized defeat and gave in to it graciously. "You can start getting things ready, but if Jackie shows up, I'll expect you to leave without causing a scene." "What do I do first?" Riley shrugged off his jacket and tossed it across a chair at the kitchen table. He was wearing a sports shirt and jeans under the poplin windbreaker. Expensive, true. Tasteful, true. The height of fashion, true. But she didn't want him to look so devastatingly gorgeous when he had seen her, for the first time in seven months, looking like the survivor of a shipwreck. "You're not even dressed for a party," she grumbled. "California chic." "But this is a semiformal affair." "So I'll be an oddity." He had raised his voice, slightly but discernibly. Yet it was all honey and velvet when he added, "Besides, I could name times when you preferred me without any clothes at all." His eyes penetrated hers. "Numerous times." She wet her lips. In this skirmish, he was the victor, unconditionally. "Lemons and limes are there," she said, pointing to the countertop, where the fruit was still wrapped in plastic bags. "Slice them. Drain those jars of olives, cocktail onions, and cherries. Put them in those shallow dishes. The bar's adjacent to the dining room." "I'll find it. Glasses?" "Dozens of them. At the bar." "Ice?" "Two full chests under the bar." "Setups?" "They're there too." "Piece of cake," he said arrogantly. "Where's a knife?" "Second drawer to the right of the sink." He found one and wielded it with the flourish of a fencer. "Scat." Before she could lunge across the kitchen and kiss him just for being so damn cute, she did exactly as he suggested. Upstairs at the marble dressing table in the bathroom, she fumbled with the eye crayons, eye-shadow wands, shading blushers, and lipstick brushes. It was a wonder she didn't end up looking like a clown-school dropout. Miraculously, the results both highlighted her best features and appeared beautifully natural. As she was stepping into her shoes, she heard the doorbell chime. She hoped Stewart would act as temporary host while she put in her earrings, misted herself with fragrance, added a final pat to her hair, and slid a thin diamond bracelet on her wrist. She leaned down to smooth her stocking. The bracelet caught on the sheer nylon and put a run in it. With a barrage of unladylike cursing, she rummaged in her hosiery drawer, hoping that this wasn't her last pair of near-black stockings. It wasn't, but by the time she had put on the new pair, she was in a tizzy. The doorbell continued to ring with maddening frequency. And the hostess hadn't yet put in an appearance! It was Riley's fault, she thought as she rushed down the stairs. How dare he sabotage her party? How dare he ruin tonight for her? Riley, Riley, Riley. Why had he selected tonight to seek her out? He had had seven months to contact her, seven months in which she hadn't received so much as a telephone call from him. But doing things in an ordinary, mannerly fashion wasn't Riley's style. No, no, he had picked tonight to come see her, the worst possible night for him to show up on her doorstep. He's looking well. Who are you kidding, Brin? He looks positively wonderful. Perhaps a trifle thinner. Your imagination. God knows there are plenty of women willing to cook for him if he asked them to. Didn't you notice more gray hair? It only makes his eyes look bluer. No matter how good he looks, or how charming he acts, he has no right to crash your party. And no matter how shaky you are, you are not glad to see him. And the Golden Gate Bridge isn't in San Francisco. Taking a deep breath, she stepped off the bottom stair and into the friendly confusion of the party. "Brin, we were beginning to think you'd skipped out on your own party." "You look beautiful." "Great dress. Why haven't you ever worn it to work?" "Because we wouldn't have gotten any work done, you bozo." Brin was surrounded by the guests who had already arrived. She exchanged pleasantries with them, apologizing profusely for being late coming downstairs. "Help yourselves to the buffet and bar." "We already have. And don't think we didn't notice the celebrity guest." Past their shoulders Brin spied Riley at the bar. He was handling highballs and wine bottles as adroitly as a juggler. A ring of adoring females had formed around him. She was suddenly glad she had told her new colleagues that her separation from Riley was an amicable one. With any luck, no one would find his presence here tonight odd. "Riley put in a surprise appearance," she said distantly, watching as Riley playfully ate a cherry proffered by one of his admirers. The woman giggled as his teeth closed around it and lifted it from her fingers. "You mean he wasn't invited?" Brin didn't like being backed into a corner, and recognized a loaded question when she heard one. Shaking herself out of her trance, she beamed a nonchalant smile and said, "Please excuse me. The caterer is still at the door welcoming my guests." She shouldered her way through the thickening crowd, joking and smiling welcome as she went. "Thank you, Stewart," she said as she relieved him at the door. "You've gone above and beyond the call of duty." "It'll be reflected on my bill. I've got popovers in the oven. They could have burned, you know." Before the evening was out, she was going to smack him. It seemed destined to happen. "Hello, so glad you could come. Let me take your coats." She turned on the charm as group after group of guests filled up the house. When she opened the door to Abel Winn, her plastic smile gave way to one of heartfelt warmth. "Our guest of honor. Happy birthday, Abel." He was a man of indeterminate age, immaculately groomed, compactly and sturdily built. He wasn't very tall, but he exuded self-assurance and had the bearing of a born leader. His eyes reflected an intelligence that bordered on shrewdness. His smile for Brin was genuine, and softened the features of an otherwise stern, Teutonic face. "Brin, dear, you shouldn't have done all this on my behalf." He leaned forward as he clasped her hand between both of his. "But I'm glad you did. I love parties. Especially when they're in my honor." She laughed with him and ushered him inside. "There's food and drink aplenty. Help yourself." "Won't you join me?" "I still have hostess duties to carry out. Maybe later." "I'll look forward to the time." He drew a more serious expression. "And speaking of time..." "It's running out. I know. Tomorrow is the deadline you gave me." "Have you made a decision?" "Not yet, Abel." "I was hoping your acceptance would be my birthday present tonight." "It's a big decision." Inadvertently her eyes sought out Riley. She was disconcerted when she met his blue gaze from across the room. There was a crease of disapproval between his dark brows as he stared at her and Abel. "Please give me until tomorrow. I promise to give you my answer then." "I'm certain it will be the one I want to hear. We'll talk later." Abel patted her hand before releasing it and moving into the midst of the party. Someone had turned on the stereo. Conversation had risen above the level of the blaring music. The party was in full swing. It might have had an inauspicious beginning, but Brin was gratified to see that it was going well. "It's all wonderful, Brin. You've outdone yourself." The woman who sidled up to her was dressed in jade satin. Brin recognized her as a member of the sales department at the radio station. "Thank you." "How did you ever manage?" "Don't ask," Brin returned with a grimace. "Right up to the last minute it was disaster with a capital d." "Well, it all came together beautifully. Your idea to have Jon Riley act as bartender was inspired. You must have a very friendly separation. How'd you ever talk him into it?" "Just lucky, I guess." The woman was so busy gobbling up Riley with her eyes that she failed to catch Brin's sarcasm. Objectively, Brin tried to view him through the other woman's eyes. He was heart-stoppingly handsome. Salt-and-pepper hair, cut and arranged to look as rakish as possible. Yet boyish, with a few strands carelessly falling over his forehead. An open invitation for a woman to run her fingers through it. His face was lean and angular, the bone structure lending itself to a television camera's most discerning angle. A strong jaw. Slender nose, slightly flared over the straight, narrow lips. Lips that had dimples in each corner as strategically placed as punctuation marks. His eyes were a color of blue the heavens would envy. "When you look at me, it's like being raped by an angel," she had told him once during a romantic interlude. He had thought she was just flattering him. He hadn't understood, but another woman would have. When he looked at a woman in that special, private way, his eyes pierced straight through her. It was violation, but the sweetest, dearest penetration imaginable. His physique was tall, almost lanky, but hard and muscular. He could drape a shapeless burlap sack over that rangy body and make it look like high fashion. Clothes had been invented for bodies like his. He looked good without clothes too. Six feet four inches of tanned skin. Shadowed by soft, dark body hair. Chest hair that would make a woman's mouth water. And he knew it. As Brin and her companion continued to watch, Stewart went behind the bar and said something to Riley, embellishing it with wild gestures. Riley said something back, something that was obviously not to Stewart's liking. The caterer put his hands on his hips and screwed his face up into a comical pucker. Riley's gaze searched the room until it landed on Brin. Since his hands were busy, he jerked his chin up, indicating that she was needed. "Excuse me." She wended her way through the crowd to the bar. "What is it?" "Ask him," Riley said tersely. "Well?" She looked at Stewart. "Some person," Stewart said, "a terribly crude bruiser from Oklahoma or someplace equally as barbaric, is drinking beer, of all the ungodly things." "The point, Stewart, the point," Brin said. "He asked for salted nuts. Nuts! I mean, really! And I asked him" -- he emphasized, pointing limply at Riley -- "if he had any nuts and--" "And I told him to stay the hell away from me." Oh, Lord. She was getting a killer of a headache, and it hurt all the way down to her toenails. "I think I have a can of nuts in the kitchen. I'll get it." The kitchen was almost as quiet and serene as a church, in contrast to the racket and chaos beyond its door. Brin went into the butler's pantry and switched on the light. She moved aside boxes of cereal and crackers, searching for the can of cashews she remembered seeing there several days ago. A shadow fell across her. "Just a minute, Stewart, and I'll find them. I know they're in here somewhere." "I'm sure Stewart will be glad to hear that." "Riley!" she exclaimed, spinning around at the sound of that honey-coated voice, which was a sound technician's dream. "Where's Stewart?" "I left him mixing a Scotch and water. I think he can handle that." Her eyes rounded with surprise when he reached for the doorknob and closed them into the closet. It was actually a roomy pantry, but with two people closed inside it, the dimensions seemed to shrink. "What are you doing?" "Locking you in." "But--" "I've missed you, Brin." "This is--" "And I don't intend to wait another second for a taste of you." Excerpted from Riley in the Morning by Sandra Brown All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.