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by Tari May
Description: Wes Edwards, the charismatic star of action movies, can't imagine anyone better to help him develop his break-through script about a young boy's struggles against cancer than Claire Sutherland. Claire knows all about cancer--she lost half her leg to the disease before she hit her teens. When raging desire sparks between the two, Claire relentlessly denies her growing feelings.
eBook Publisher: Awe-Struck E-Books, 1999
eBookwise Release Date: April 2002
17 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [253 KB]
Reading time: 162-227 min.
"4 Stars. CHERISHED is a fast-paced, fun story with heavy emotional underpinnings. I cried in a couple of places and smiled mistily when all their dreams came true. Ms. May can be proud of her accomplishment--a must-read when you need a feel-good story."--Karen Larsen, Scribes World Reviews
Chapter One The first time Wes Edwards laid eyes on Claire Sutherland he knew she was out of his league.
But he wouldn't let a little detail like that stop him.
It was a blue, sunny afternoon of swaying palms and wafting orange blossom scents. Children stomped on the pristine acreage of the Beverly Hills estate, playing shuffleboard or darts, fishing in the ponds, tossing balls or dunking their favorite celebrities. The Kid's Carnival, a charity event raising money for the Sutherland Foundation for Cancer Research, was in full swing.
Under the cool shade of an oak, bright balloons and streamers hanging from the branches, Claire held court. Her crown was a single rose above her ear, a bloom of crimson against her blond hair. Her jewels were her eyes, sapphire blue, deep set, striking against her pale brows and porcelain white skin. Her royal dress was jeans and a T-shirt, the same as worn by her powerful court standing next to her; all joking and laughing with the free, easy assurance old money brought.
But Claire's smile was neither free nor easy. She stood beside her brother and friends, but apart, her thoughts clearly her own, inaccessible, inscrutable. Her gaze, having settled politely on each for a time, drifted from them to the children gathered in a circle on the lawn.
It was then that those remarkable eyes made contact with Wes, and he could not move for the anticipation shooting through him. She smiled at him, a shy gesture that curled her mouth and put a glow upon her striking features. Wes felt his stomach tighten. He wanted her to tilt her head, flick her hair, give any little movement to show she was attracted to him. The chase could begin. But, instead she turned her attention back to her elite group, Wes a seemingly forgotten thing.
"May I have your autograph, Mr. Edwards?"
Wes tore his gaze from Claire and saw a ten-year-old girl holding out an autograph book. On her scalp were mists of soft, down-like hair. Her face was bloated by chemotherapy. He smiled but his heart ached, suspecting what she went through with her cancer therapy. "Sure thing."
"You're my favorite actor but my mother says that you don't have much dialogue in your movies because you're not too smart and don't speak English very well."
Her bluntness caught him so off-guard he laughed out right. But the remark hurt. Deeply. It was the kind of quip said frequently by producers and directors who refused to give him the substantial roles he craved. He wanted audiences to see him as more than a muscular hunk who seduced the heroine and karate chopped his way to saving the world.
"Oh she did, did she?" Wes knelt down on large legs made all the more powerful by years of martial arts training. "What is your name?"
"Well, Mary Beth, tell your mother that I try very hard to soften my French accent. And tell her that to prove I am smart, I'm writing my own movie about a little boy named Daniel who goes through the same treatments you do."
"Are you still going to get the bad guy?"
He brushed his fingers softly along her cheek. "You can count on it."
She cuddled his autograph next to her heart. "Why don't you write about a little girl--like me?"
"I can have a little girl like you in my story. A little girl who goes to a camp like the one Claire Sutherland runs."
Wes stole a moment to look beyond the circus tent where Claire chatted with her family, a wave of heat washing over him. She was the sexiest woman here today. Her faded blue jeans caressed her hips like a lover's hand. Her plain white T-shirt pressed erotically against the swell of her breasts. Such articles of clothing should be outlawed except on a moonlit night when a man like himself could watch a woman like Claire slip them off, revealing a bare, silken body waiting for his touch.
Wes raked an unsteady hand through his hair. He hadn't expected to feel this way for the woman he needed to approach about backing Daniel's Story.
"Claire's camp is in two weeks," said Mary Beth. "Are you going to be there, too?"
He looked back at Mary Beth. "If everything goes the way I want it to, I'll be seeing quite a lot of Claire."