Born in ice, p.30
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       Born in Ice, p.30
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         Part #2 of Born In series by Nora Roberts

  "Thinking of investing, are you?"

  "No, and couldn't if I were. There is no Triquarter Mining-not in Wales or anywhere else he can locate."

  Rogan's brow creased. "Folded, did they?"

  "If doesn't appear there ever was a Triquarter Mining- which should mean the certificate you're holding is worthless."

  "Odd then, that someone would be willing to pay a thousand pounds for it. Your man might have missed something. The company might be quite small, not appear on any of the standard lists."

  "I thought of that. So did he. He was curious enough to dig a little deeper, even called the number that was printed on the letterhead."

  "And?"

  "It isn't a working number. It occurs to me that anyone can have a sheet of letterhead printed up. Just as anyone can rent a post office box, like the one Brianna wrote to in Wales."

  "True enough. But it doesn't explain why someone would be willing to pay for something that doesn't exist." Rogan frowned into middle distance. "I've got some business in Dublin. Though I'm not sure Brie will forgive me for taking Maggie and Liam away, we need to leave at the end of the week. It should only take a few days, and I can look into this myself while I'm there."

  "I figure it's worth a trip to Wales." Gray shrugged as Rogan looked at him. "You're a little encumbered right now, but I'm not."

  "You're thinking of going to Wales yourself?" "I've always wanted to play detective. It's kind of a coincidence, don't you think, that shortly after Brie found the certificate and sent off a letter, the cottage was broken into." He moved his shoulders again. "I make my living tying coincidences into plots."

  "And will you tell Brianna what you're up to?" "Pieces of it anyway. I've been thinking about taking a quick trip to New York-Brianna might like a weekend in Manhattan."

  Now Rogan's brows lifted. "I imagine she would-if you could convince her to leave the cottage during high season.

  "I think I've got that worked out." "And New York is a distance from Wales." "Wouldn't be hard to detour there on the way back to Clare, though. Add a couple days onto the trip. I thought about going on my own, but if I had to talk to anyone official, I think I'd need her-or Maggie or their mother." He grinned again. "I think Brie's the obvious choice."

  "When would you leave?"

  "A couple of days."

  "You move fast," Rogan commented. "Do you think you can get Brianna to move as quickly?"

  "It'll take a lot of charm. I've been saving up."

  "Well, if you manage it, keep in touch with me. I'll do what I can to look into the matter from my end. Oh, and if you need extra ammunition, you could mention we've several of Maggie's pieces displayed in Worldwide New York."

  The sound of women's laughter filled the air. They came outside, still circling Maggie, who had Liam in the crook of her arm. There were introductions, greetings, a lot of last-minute cooing over the baby before the visitors hopped on bicycles and peddled off.

  "Let's have him." Gray reached out and took the baby from Maggie's arms. He always got a kick out of the way Liam stared up at him with solemn blue eyes. "Hey, aren't you talking yet? Rogan, I think it's time we got this kid away from the women, took him down to the pub for a pint."

  "He's had his pint for the evening, thank you," Maggie put in. "Mother's milk."

  Gray tickled the baby's chin. "How come he's wearing a dress? These women are making a sissy out of you, kid."

  " Tisn't a dress." Brianna leaned forward to kiss the top of Liam's head. "A sacque is what it is. He'll be wearing trousers soon enough. Rogan, you've only to heat that dish I brought down when you're ready for dinner." She scowled down at his gardening attempt. "It's no good playing with the weeds. You have to get the roots."

  He grinned, kissed her. "Yes, ma'am."

  Waving him away, she laughed. "I'm going. Gray, give the baby back. The Sweeneys have had more than enough company for the day. You'll put your feet up?" she said to Maggie.

  "I will. Make her do the same," she ordered Gray. "She's been running two households for days." Gray snatched Brianna's hand. "I could carry you back."

  "Don't be foolish. You take care." She let her hand stay in Gray's as they walked through the garden gate and onto the road. "He's grown so much already," she murmured. "And he does smile now, right at you. Do you ever wonder what goes through a baby's mind when he's looking at you?"

  "I figure he's wondering if this life is going to be much different from the last."

  Surprised, she turned her head. "Do you believe in that sort of thing? Really?"

  "Sure. One trip through never made sense to me. We'd never get it right with one try. And being in a place like this, you can feel the echo of old souls every time you take a breath."

  "Sometimes I feel I've walked along here before." Idly she reached out, trailing her hand along the red blossoms of fuchsia that lined the road. "Right here, but in a different time, in a different skin."

  "Tell me a story."

  "There's a stillness to the air, a peace. The road's only a path, very narrow but well trod. And I can smell turf fires burning. I'm tired, but it's good, because I'm going home to someone. Someone's waiting for me just up ahead. Sometimes I can almost see him standing there, lifting his hand to wave at me."

  She stopped, shook her head at her own nonsense. "It's foolish. Just imagining."

  "Doesn't have to be." He bent down, plucked a wild-flower from the side of the road, and handed it to her. "The first day I walked here, I couldn't look at it all fast enough, long enough. It wasn't just because it was new. It was like remembering." On impulse he turned, took her into his arms, and kissed her.

  So was this, he realized. Now and then, when he held her, when his mouth was on hers, there was a picture of it at the edge of his mind.

  Like remembering.

  He brushed off the feeling. It was time, he decided, to start charming her into doing what he wanted. "Rogan told me he needs to go back to Dublin for a while. Maggie and Liam will go with him."

  "Oh." There was a sharp, quick stab of regret before she found acceptance. "Well, they have a life there as well. I tend to forget when they're here."

  "You'll miss them."

  "I will, yes."

  "I need to take a little trip myself."

  "A trip?" Now there was a jolt of panic she fought to control. "Where are you going?"

  "New York. The premiere, remember?"

  "Your movie." She managed a smile. "It's exciting for you."

  "It could be. If you'd go with me."

  "Go with you?" Now she stopped dead in the road to gape at him. "To New York City?"

  "A couple of days. Three or four." He scooped her into his arms again and led her into an impromtu waltz. "We could stay at the Plaza like Eloise."

  "Eloise? Who-"

  "Never mind. I'll explain later. We'll take the Concorde, be there before you know it. We could visit Worldwide there," he added as extra incentive. "Do all the tourist things, eat in ridiculously expensive restaurants. You might get some new menus out of it."

  "But I couldn't. Really." Her head was spinning, and had nothing to do with the quick circles of the dance. "The inn-"

  "Mrs. O'Malley said she'd be glad to pinch hit." "To-"

  "To help out," he elaborated. "I want you with me, Brianna. The movie's important, but it won't be any fun without you. It's a big moment for me. I don't want it to just be an obligation."

  "But, New York-"

  "A wink away on the SST. Murphy's happy to look after Con, Mrs. O'Malley's bustling to take care of the inn."

  "You've talked to them already." She tried to stop the whirling dance, but Gray kept spinning her.

  "Sure. I knew you wouldn't go until everything was tidy."

  "I wouldn't. And I can't-"

  "Do this for me, Brianna." Ruthlessly he pulled out his best weapon. The trust. "I need you there."

  Her breath came out on a long, slow sigh. "Grayson."

  "Is that a yes?"
<
br />   "I must be mad." And she laughed. "Yes."

  Two days later Brianna found herself on the Concorde, streaking across the Atlantic. Her heart was in her throat. Had been since she'd closed her suitcase. She was going to New York. Just like that. She'd left her business in the hands of another. Capable hands, to be sure, but not her hands.

  She'd agreed to go to another country, to cross an entire ocean with a man who wasn't even kin, in a plane that was a great deal smaller than she'd imagined.

  Surely she must have gone mad.

  "Nervous?" He took her hand, brought it to his lips.

  "Gray, I should never have done this. I don't know what got into me." Of course, she knew. He had. He had gotten into her in every possible way.

  "Are you worried about your mother's reaction?"

  That had been hideous. The hard words, the accusations and predictions. But Brianna shook her head. She'd resigned herself to Maeve's feelings on Gray, and their relationship.

  "I just packed and left," she murmured.

  "Hardly." He laughed at her. "You made at least a dozen lists, cooked enough meals for a month and stuck them in the freezer, cleaned the cottage from top to bottom-" He broke off because she didn't merely look nervous. She looked terrified. "Honey, relax, there's nothing to be scared of. New York isn't nearly as bad as it's made out to be."

  It wasn't New York. Brianna turned her head, burying her face against his shoulder. It was Gray. She understood, if he didn't, that there was no one else in the world she would have done this for, but family. She understood, if he didn't, that he had become as intricate and vital a part of her life as her own flesh and blood.

  "Tell me about Eloise again."

  He kept her hand in his, soothing. "She's a little girl who lives at the Plaza with her Nanny, her dog Weenie, and her turtle Skipperdee."

  Brianna smiled, closed her eyes, and let him tell her the story.

  There was a limo waiting for them at the airport. Thanks to Rogan and Maggie, Brianna had experienced a limo before and didn't feel a complete dolt. In the plush backseat she found an elaborate bouquet of three dozen white roses and a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon.

  "Grayson." Overwhelmed, she buried her face in the blossoms.

  "All you have to do is enjoy yourself." He popped the cork on the champagne, let it fizz to the rim. "And I, your genial host, will show you all there is to see in the Big Apple."

  "Why do they call it that?"

  "I haven't got a clue." He handed her a flute of wine, tapped his against it. "You are the most beautiful woman I've ever known."

  She flushed, fumbled, and pushed a hand through her travel-touseled hair. "I'm sure I'm looking my best."

  "No, you look best in your apron." When she laughed, he leaned closer, nibbled on her ear. "In fact, I was wondering if you'd wear it for me sometime."

  "I wear it every day."

  "Uh-uh. I mean just the apron."

  Now color flooded her cheeks and she cast a distracted glance at the back of the driver's head through the security glass. "Gray-"

  "Okay, we'll deal with my prurient fantasies later. What do you want to do first?"

  "I-" She was still stuttering over the idea of standing in her kitchen in nothing but her apron.

  "Shopping," he decided. "After we check in, and I make a couple of calls,
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