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  • You've been to Australia, haven't you?

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  • They have got to live a man's life, pushing all these things before them, and get on as well as they can.

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  • Alex was romantic enough to understand the sentimental significance of the home she had inherited.

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  • My daughter is coming for me to take me there.

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  • She shook her head to clear it.

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  • Her heart was starting to flutter.

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  • They even agreed to take care of the animals while Alex and Carmen took their first vacation.

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  • If there are, they are liable to be glass oats!

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  • "Halt!" he cried to the men who were with him.

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  • In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this it will be retained; that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference.

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  • I go up in a balloon, usually, to draw the crowds to the circus.

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  • In addition to the assistance from the renters, the money finally gave her an income of her own, and the token independence that went with it.

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  • Next to Washington he was the greatest American.

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  • But what about a reasoned belief based on a balanced look at both history and current reality that leads you to be optimistic?

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  • "I shall be delighted to meet them," said the prince.

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  • I wish to meet our Sorcerer.

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  • Their mouths were open for the food they were expecting their mother to give them.

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  • He has no time to be anything but a machine.

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  • Analysts declared each successive generation might be "the first to have a lower standard of living than their parents."

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  • She has refused to evacuate Malta.

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  • There, too, after a fit of temper, I went to find comfort and to hide my hot face in the cool leaves and grass.

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  • Very likely he has stopped to take care of them.

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  • Hey, someone has to discover penicillin—it might as well be me.

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  • Two children, brother and sister, were on their way to school.

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  • With one hand the little boy clung to his sister's arm, and with the other he held his primer.

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  • All were surprised to find that he was not with them.

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  • He married Lucy Helen Everett, who belonged to the same family of Everetts as Edward Everett and Dr. Edward Everett Hale.

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  • Even in the days before my teacher came, I used to feel along the square stiff boxwood hedges, and, guided by the sense of smell would find the first violets and lilies.

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  • Alex had provided the money to remodel the home, but insisted that it stay in her name only.

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  • Swiftly they drew near to the flaming colored suns, and passed close beside them.

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  • "We've got to come to the bottom some time," remarked Zeb, with a deep sigh.

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  • There was the usual amount of discussion as to a name for me.

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  • After the war was over the family moved to Memphis, Tennessee.

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  • "I stopped a minute to give those birds to their mother," he answered.

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  • And this man was saying we were going to the moon in a rocket ship made of metals we hadn't even invented.

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  • With these words she greeted Prince Vasili Kuragin, a man of high rank and importance, who was the first to arrive at her reception.

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  • But I warn you, if you don't tell me that this means war, if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by that Antichrist--I really believe he is Antichrist--I will have nothing more to do with you and you are no longer my friend, no longer my 'faithful slave,' as you call yourself!

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  • If you have an unwavering commitment to an idea that all things will be good all the time, then that is irrational.

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  • These spires were like great spear-points, and if they tumbled upon one of them they were likely to suffer serious injury.

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  • "You ought to join one," declared the little man seriously.

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  • I have travelled a good deal in Concord; and everywhere, in shops, and offices, and fields, the inhabitants have appeared to me to be doing penance in a thousand remarkable ways.

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  • Then all preferred listening to speaking.

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  • They used to hang in long festoons from our porch, filling the whole air with their fragrance, untainted by any earthy smell; and in the early morning, washed in the dew, they felt so soft, so pure, I could not help wondering if they did not resemble the asphodels of God's garden.

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  • We've been away for a long time, you know, and so we're anxious to get home again.

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  • As the nation grew, so did what came to be called the American Dream.

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  • Their son, Charles Adams, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and moved to Helena, Arkansas.

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  • I lived, up to the time of the illness that deprived me of my sight and hearing, in a tiny house consisting of a large square room and a small one, in which the servant slept.

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  • You may come to America and be poor, but if you work hard, your children will have a better life and a better opportunity.

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  • It is a custom in the South to build a small house near the homestead as an annex to be used on occasion.

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  • Alex was supposed to be sterile, but they had been wrong about that.

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  • A balloon meant to her some other arrival from the surface of the earth, and she hoped it would be some one able to assist her and Zeb out of their difficulties.

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  • He reached her and turned, walking beside her as they started back up the hill to the house.

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  • Then they turned bottom side up, and continued to roll slowly over until they were right side up again.

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  • Leaving her thoughts behind, she started up the hill to meet Alex.

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  • "I cannot think of leaving these little things here to be trampled upon," said the general.

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  • But they continued to fall, all together, and the boy and girl had no difficulty in remaining upon the seat, just as they were before.

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  • All this was so terrible and unreal that he could not understand it at all, and so had good reason to be afraid.

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  • They seemed to be falling right into the middle of a big city which had many tall buildings with glass domes and sharp-pointed spires.

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  • "None of us has had breakfast," said the boy; "and in a time of danger like this it's foolish to talk about eating."

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  • What if the Smolensk people have offahd to waise militia for the Empewah?

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  • But I hope you will at least believe it to be possible.

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  • Scarcity was the new watchword as the focus turned to all the problems of the future, not all the possibilities.

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  • Have you come to take me to Hugson's Ranch?

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  • "Yes; but we're used to such things in California," he replied.

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  • Zeb shook the reins and urged him to go, but Jim was stubborn.

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  • He was not going very fast, but on his flanks specks of foam began to appear and at times he would tremble like a leaf.

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  • Dorothy was too dazed to say much, but she watched one of Jim's big ears turn to violet and the other to rose, and wondered that his tail should be yellow and his body striped with blue and orange like the stripes of a zebra.

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  • Then a little man jumped out of the basket, took off his tall hat, and bowed very gracefully to the crowd of Mangaboos around him.

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  • "Who did you say it was?" whispered Zeb to the girl.

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  • I belong to Bailum & Barney's Great Consolidated Shows--three rings in one tent and a menagerie on the side.

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  • But in the excitement of carrying me to church my father lost the name on the way, very naturally, since it was one in which he had declined to have a part.

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  • "We're coming to something now," announced the horse.

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  • Why should they eat their sixty acres, when man is condemned to eat only his peck of dirt?

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  • But he did not wish the little girl to think him a coward, so he advanced slowly to the edge of the roof.

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  • So, with a snort and a neigh and a whisk of his short tail he trotted off the roof into the air and at once began floating downward to the street.

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  • "The Rain of Stones has done much damage to our city," he said, "and we shall hold you responsible for it unless you can prove your innocence."

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  • Dorothy was surprised to find how patient the people were, for her own little heart was beating rapidly with excitement.

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  • Sorry to have troubled you; but it couldn't be helped.

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  • There sat the thorny Sorcerer in his chair of state, and when the Wizard saw him he began to laugh, uttering comical little chuckles.

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  • Here is another person descended from the air to prove you were wrong.

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  • I am delighted to find humbugs inside the earth, just the same as on top of it.

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  • But I've just had the bad luck to come out of the sky, skip the solid earth, and land lower down than I intended.

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  • It isn't everybody who gets a chance to see your Land of the Gabazoos.

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  • "That remains to be seen," said the other.

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  • At a place where two roads crossed, they saw a tall gentleman coming to meet them.

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  • How can he remember well his ignorance--which his growth requires--who has so often to use his knowledge?

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  • Maybe he thought she would change her mind, but it wasn't going to happen.

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  • Strolling down to the footbridge, she leaned on the railing.

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  • "Hey Heidi," his warm baritone voice called to her.

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  • The voice and words belonged to Josh, and yet he had been dead for more than two years.

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  • No doubt it mattered to him.

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  • Alex was doing everything in his power to provide her with all the experiences of a natural mother.

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  • Slowly carrying the full cups into the living room, she handed one to Alex.

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  • It should have arrived at Hugson's Siding at midnight, but it was already five o'clock and the gray dawn was breaking in the east when the little train slowly rumbled up to the open shed that served for the station-house.

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  • The little girl stood still to watch until the train had disappeared around a curve; then she turned to see where she was.

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  • She walked toward it and found the horse tied to a tree and standing motionless, with its head hanging down almost to the ground.

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  • Presently he woke up, rose to a sitting position and rubbed his eyes briskly.

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  • The worst thing was their terror of reaching the bottom of this great crack in the earth, and the natural fear that sudden death was about to overtake them at any moment.

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  • With this thought in mind the girl took heart and leaned her head over the side of the buggy to see where the strange light was coming from.

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  • Dorothy had a green streak through the center of her face where the blue and yellow lights came together, and her appearance seemed to add to his fright.

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  • But don't let us worry over such things, Zeb; we can't help ourselves just now, you know, and I've always been told it's foolish to borrow trouble.

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  • "He eats enough to get fat, I'm sure," said the boy, gravely.

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  • That I am not prepared to say.

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  • "Come to us, oh, Gwig!" called the man, in a loud voice.

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  • "Why have you dared to intrude your unwelcome persons into the secluded Land of the Mangaboos?" he asked, sternly.

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  • Why should we expect that to change?

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  • They have decided that Buonaparte has burnt his boats, and I believe that we are ready to burn ours.

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  • She wanted to find, and still seeks, some secret motive in our actions.

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  • The top of the buggy caught the air like a parachute or an umbrella filled with wind, and held them back so that they floated downward with a gentle motion that was not so very disagreeable to bear.

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  • Dorothy sighed and commenced to breathe easier.

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  • What's going to become of us now?

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  • I will lead you to it.

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  • Pierre went up to the circle that had formed round the speaker and listened.

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  • If the noble awistocwacy of the pwovince of Moscow thinks fit, it can show its loyalty to our sov'weign the Empewah in other ways.

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  • Count Rostov's mouth watered with pleasure and he nudged Pierre, but Pierre wanted to speak himself.

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  • "I think that before discussing these questions," Pierre continued, "we should ask the Emperor--most respectfully ask His Majesty--to let us know the number of our troops and the position in which our army and our forces now are, and then..."

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  • She smiled to herself - and not always because he rubbed her the wrong way.

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  • The naval officer spoke in a particularly sonorous, musical, and aristocratic baritone voice, pleasantly swallowing his r's and generally slurring his consonants: the voice of a man calling out to his servant, Heah!

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  • Ah we to take Smolensk as our patte'n?

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  • All that did was to enwich the pwiests' sons and thieves and wobbahs....

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  • The doctor called today to see if my condition had improved with the medication.

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  • It was true, and it brought color to his neck, but he didn't comment.

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  • She sighed and walked over to the window seat.

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  • Still, she said, returning her attention to the old house.

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  • Sometimes we have to accept change, if we want to move forward.

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  • In fact, he had given her strict orders not to lift anything.

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  • Maybe lifting had nothing to do with it.

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  • She pushed the thought from her mind and turned to him.

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  • His somber gaze met hers and then drifted to her lips.

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  • Do you have to go back right away?

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  • I meant... do I have time to fix you a hot lunch?

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  • Pulling his head down, she met warm lips again and surrendered to the passion he always managed to arouse.

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  • He was going to call the doctor.

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  • Alex was uneasy because he and his biological father had never seen eye to eye.

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  • What are you going to hide from me that I haven't already seen?

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  • He bent over, picked up her clothes and tossed them to her.

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  • I'm going to make myself a sandwich and get back to work.

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  • Are you opposed to a break now and then?

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  • I've got to go.

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  • Without waiting for her to reply, he strode away, pausing only long enough to shrug into his denim jacket.

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  • Bill was family because he was married to Alex's sister.

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  • Apparently his greatest concern was the fact that his mother was married to his adoptive father at the time he was conceived.

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  • To be fair, his father hadn't made things any better by offering money to Alex and not his sister.

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  • That served another purpose when the conversation turned to the possibility of another child.

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  • Carmen had already spoken to Mums about it.

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  • Mr. Reynolds was indifferent to the subject.

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  • That idea was troublesome to Carmen as well.

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  • She wasn't vain enough to think that turned him to drinking, though.

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  • Almost everyone else had already left, so Katie and Mary volunteered to help.

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  • That was when Mary decided to relieve her mind of a troubling thought.

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  • I can't imagine what he was thinking to hide a thing like that from you.

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  • Mary added another plate to the stack.

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  • I don't know if he is actually trying to hide things, or simply doesn't know how to initiate the subject.

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  • The deeper the feeling, the more he attempted to cover it.

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  • He had a right to a few quirks.

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  • Alex got a relief when the conversation turned to something else and stayed there for the rest of the evening.

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  • He turned to find Jonathan grinning up at him.

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  • Alex chuckled and relinquished the remainder of the waltz to him.

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  • He was getting to be quite a handsome young man.

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  • Then there was the money he left to Carmen.

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  • It had to be the new baby.

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  • It was one thing to tell herself everything was resolved, but quite another to thoroughly accept something she had always considered wrong.

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  • Do you want to tell me about it?

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  • There isn't much to tell.

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  • She slid over, cuddling close to him, her head on his pillow.

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  • The balmy weather of Thanksgiving Day had given way to a frosty day after.

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  • She went to the coop first and watered the chickens.

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  • Thanks to Alex, that chore had been turned into a simple twist of a knob.

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  • The coop was a comfortable 48°F - warm enough to keep the eggs from freezing, but cold enough that the chickens didn't get shocked by the temperature change when they went out of the coop.

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  • A trip back to the house to drop off the eggs revealed a house still silent.

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  • Princess was supposed to foal again in January.

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  • Six-month old Dandy nickered to his mother, but Casper was busy talking to Princess and Dawn.

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  • She was due to foal in July.

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  • Alex had promised the foal to Jonathan and he had already named it Eureka.

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  • Are you guys ready to eat and go outside?

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  • She would soon be ready for Jonathan to ride.

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  • I'll take care of the others if you want to watch the kids.

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  • What are you going to fix?

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  • He pulled her close in an embrace, his lips warm against hers in response to her silent query.

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  • For a few minutes they held on to each other, kissing as if they hadn't seen each other in a week.

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  • We wouldn't want them to think we were doing anything immoral.

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  • His tone suggested impatience, but his expression gave no clue as to why.

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  • "I've got to go wash my hands and shuck this coat," she said.

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  • They put her through college and it was her intent to stay with them as long as they needed her.

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  • In business transactions Alex was frugal with his money, but when it came to his family, he was generous.

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  • In fact, that was a good way to make sure he didn't.

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  • It was nice having Alex home all day and having the family together, but all good things come to an end.

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  • With his return to work, things at the house shifted to a faster pace.

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  • There was shopping and packing to be done before they left on vacation.

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  • As busy as she was, time had to be set aside for play with Destiny.

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  • Carmen glanced quickly outside to see if the threatening snow had arrived.

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  • Assured that it had not, she turned back to him.

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  • I just thought it would be fun for the man to tell the wife this for once.

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  • For one terrifying moment the enormity of what they had done brought her close to panic.

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  • You said to go ahead.

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  • We're going to have a baby, not a sin.

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  • He thought it would be fun for the man to tell the woman.

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  • But then, he had reason - in his head - to believe it wasn't his.

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  • They had to move forward, and leave the past behind them.

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  • You're going to have a little brother or sister.

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  • She turned to Alex.

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  • Two to four weeks - maybe more.

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  • It will be so much fun to work on it with Jonathan and Destiny.

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  • The unknown can be worse than reality, and she had no idea what to expect on the flight.

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  • Aside from packing, there was also decorating to be done.

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  • She had to move a few things to make room, but that wasn't too hard.

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  • The neighbors couldn't see into any of their windows, and they were far enough off the main road that the only traffic would be people coming to see them.

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  • The day before they were scheduled to leave, Alex came home from work and asked to see the tickets.

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  • She retrieved them from her purse and handed them to him.

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  • It was presumptuous of him to purchase them.

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  • He picked up the newspaper she had set out for him and started to read.

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  • I know it still galls you that he was willing to help pay for your college education, but not Katie's.

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  • You and Jonathan wanted to go.

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  • He lifted the paper and started to read again.

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  • What time are we going to leave tomorrow?

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  • Do the Sanders know where everything is and what needs to be done with the animals?

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  • To him, it was no different than artificially inseminating a cow at his clinic... well, the concept wasn't.

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  • They were paying someone to create it and then paying someone to carry it.

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  • I just want it to be healthy.

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  • Why hadn't it occurred to her that Jonathan might feel he was being replaced?

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  • Every child feels displaced to some degree when a new sibling arrives.

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  • "Did you what?" he asked, running fingers through his hair to straighten it.

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  • We'll have to be careful about that with the new baby.

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  • "What?" she asked, glancing around to see what she'd absentmindedly done this time.

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  • He had indicated enough times that he would like to see her in something a little more feminine and fashionable.

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  • He was going to like the clothes she bought for the trip.

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  • Besides, it was time to replace some of the things she'd been wearing since before they were married.

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  • It always comes down to this, doesn't it?

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  • So why should we listen to what they call normal?

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  • It was embarrassing to think she had let it go on this long without realizing he was troubled by it.

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  • They still had something mysterious and exciting to explore.

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  • It was going to be nice having nothing to do but enjoy their little family for the next two weeks.

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  • They would have some time to enjoy a late Christmas at home when they returned.

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  • But you need to pamper yourself a little.

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  • You're always the last one to get anything new.

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  • I don't want you to start feeling neglected.

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  • Carmen hurried over to Destiny.

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  • I thought you needed to sleep longer because you were working so hard getting ready.

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  • He stepped back to surrender Destiny.

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  • He didn't want to go, so maybe this was his expression of resistance.

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  • Carmen, don't bother to cook.

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  • With everything going on, Carmen didn't have time to worry about flying, but when they were all sitting at the airport, she finally had time to stew over it.

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  • Carmen sat with her hands clutched together tightly as the plane taxied out to the runway.

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  • In spite of her decision not to, she glanced out the window.

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  • He continued to avoid her gaze, focusing on Felipa instead.

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  • Felipa looked to be in her early twenties and had a sunshine smile that made Carmen feel welcome.

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  • "I have been so excited since father said you were coming!" she said to Alex, but her eyes included Carmen.

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  • Carmen accepted the hug and stepped back, startled to silence.

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  • Carmen tried to focus on Felipa, but her mind was full of questions.

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  • Maybe Katie wasn't the only one who had been overlooked by Señor Medena when it came to inheritance.

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  • She came to the airport with him.

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  • Felipa held her hands out to Destiny.

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  • I doubt if she'll go to you.

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  • Alex was cordial to his father and formal to his sister.

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  • Felipa didn't seem to notice anything unusual in his attitude, so maybe he had always treated them that way.

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  • If their meeting today was any indication, this visit was going to be interesting - if not uncomfortable.

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  • After they retrieved their luggage, Señor Medena instructed a man to carry it to a white limousine.

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  • Carmen tried to hide her surprise.

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  • Alex helped the man get the luggage into the trunk and then hurried to assist Carmen into the car before the man could touch her.

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  • His cool gaze shifted idly from Felipa to Señor Medena.

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  • Carmen scooted closer to him, wondering if he heard Felipa.

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  • He wanted to protect her and preserve her innocence.

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  • The fact that there was nothing to protect her from was irrelevant.

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  • Well, he did say he would go because she and Jonathan wanted to.

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  • She turned to Felipa.

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  • "Alex tells me you have some nice horses on your ranch," Carmen said to Señor Medena.

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  • "Mostly Arabian," he said, shifting his attention to Carmen.

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  • I have a mare; and we have a five-year-old mare with a colt, a four year-old filly, and a two-year-old filly... oh, and my mare is going to foal again in January.

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  • Surely he didn't intend to be verbally invisible the entire visit.

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  • It wasn't like him to be petty.

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  • She turned to him.

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  • His empty gaze shifted momentarily from the window to her face.

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  • Do you want to see it?

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  • I'd like to, but if it's too much trouble...

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  • Alex had directed the little he said to her only.

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  • It simply wasn't like him to be rude like that.

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  • He asked her to go back to Houston with him, enticing her with rides on the beach - and love all night.

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  • His hand dropped to her shoulder and he squeezed it.

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  • When her attention returned to the others, she caught Señor Medena and Felipa watching them.

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  • It was impossible to know what was going on in Señor Medena's mind by observing his expression.

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  • Alex shifted a faintly amused gaze to Carmen.

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  • For the remainder of the trip to the ranch, Alex remained in a good mood.

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  • More than likely the correction was to prevent her from being embarrassed.

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  • The three-story building looked big enough to cover a city block.

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  • Carmen met his gaze for a moment - long enough to reunite, and then they both turned back to the others.

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  • I hope to have a love like yours some day.

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  • Actually, she hadn't thought how it looked to others - and there had never been any doubt in her mind that she was fortunate to have Alex.

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  • Why had he hidden them - and why had he decided to reveal them?

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  • It's nice to meet you both.

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  • Their welcome to Alex appeared to be genuine.

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  • Each of them hugged him and talked briefly to Destiny.

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  • Alex introduced Jonathan and their welcome to him was equally warm.

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  • "Let me show you to your rooms," Felipa said, taking Carmen by the arm.

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  • He probably didn't realize that his hostility toward Señor Medena was being transferred to Jonathan as anxiety.

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  • If you need anything at all, be sure to let us know.

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  • Does that mean I'm supposed to change, or that what I'm wearing is considered casual?

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  • I think she was merely directing the comment at you because she thought you might want to know.

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  • What you have on is fine, but if you want to freshen up and wear something else, go ahead.

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  • Are you going to change?

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  • That's easy for you to say.

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  • As he started toward the doorway to their room, she called after him.

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  • I don't want her to wake up in a strange room and not be able to find us.

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  • Alex walked in and closed the door to the other bedroom.

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  • Her wandering gaze came up to his face and warmth shot painfully up her neck.

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  • He tossed the shirt on the bed and walked silently to her.

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  • For a moment she surrendered to his warm lips and secure embrace, clinging to him as her heart stepped up pace.

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  • He'll be stuck to that TV for hours.

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  • "I'll lock the door," he said, his lips returning to hers and lingering in a way that made her feel weak.

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  • "Give me?" she teased, trying to lighten the mood.

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  • "Not for them." he said, and turned to the bathroom.

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  • The man sitting at the other end of the table was introduced to them as Morino el capataz - their foreman, Morino.

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  • Alfonso looked to be a year or so older than Jonathan.

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  • His gaze shifted back to Alex.

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  • There's nothing much to tell.

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  • Carmen wanted to shrivel out of sight.

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  • She turned her head to watch him.

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  • Alex captured her hand and forced her to drop the potatoes.

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  • Her lower lip pushed out and then she started to cry.

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  • "You're supposed to eat with a spoon or a fork," she instructed calmly as she finished wiping the little hand.

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  • I didn't mean to scare you.

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  • Carmen glanced around the table, but everyone seemed to be more amused than disturbed... everyone but Señor Medena.

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  • Without comment, he shifted his attention back to his plate.

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  • Later, as they walked back to their room, Jonathan looked up at Carmen.

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  • Why is it good when you adopt a baby that isn't yours, but bad if it's yours and you don't give birth to it?

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  • I guess it's just something different - something we aren't used to yet.

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  • There was no way to defend her moral objections without seeding doubt in his mind.

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  • What did you want me to say?

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  • How long is this going to be your dirty little secret?

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  • Having a baby was something they should be excited about - talking about to others.

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  • And yet, she was reluctant to say anything to church members - even family members.

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  • She sank to the bed.

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  • It isn't going to get any easier, so I'd better shape up.

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  • I agreed to this and I want the baby as much as you do.

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  • She'll be closer to her age.

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  • You do realize that if it's a girl, we're going to be unevenly matched.

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  • Relief brought a smile to her lips.

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  • Are you sure you don't want me to take her?

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  • She urged her mount a safe distance away, motioning for Jonathan to follow.

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    0
  • The shock of what happened gave way to fury as Felipa turned back to them.

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  • Her anxious gaze went from Carmen to Alex and back again.

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  • What was that supposed to mean?

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  • He had probably been hurting during the ride, but refused to say anything.

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  • Señor Medena asked Carmen and Alex to come to his office with him.

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  • I'm not asking you to punish the men.

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  • We are back to that?

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  • Señor Medena motioned to the door.

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  • Getting no response from Alex, he shrugged and turned to his desk.

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  • He paused at the door to wait for her.

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  • In that moment she was certain she saw something in his eyes - something akin to remorse.

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  • I'm sorry, but you weren't going to speak in your behalf.

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  • He instantly gave in to chase her down the hall.

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  • I would like to.

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  • "Yeah!" she said excitedly when he lowered her to sit on his arm.

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  • He took Carmen by the hand and leaned close to her ear.

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  • "I'll talk to him," he whispered.

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  • "Good night," Carmen said to him.

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  • If only Alex could talk to his father that way.

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  • With nothing more to do, she wandered in to watch him shave.

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  • I want to, but...

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  • Let's get the kids ready to go.

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  • I don't want to spoil them - or anyone else to spoil them.

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  • For the first time it mattered to her.

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  • The last time he made a business trip to Columbia, he had said they needed the money.

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  • Ultimately it had cost them a child and her ability to have more.

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  • It had provided the opportunity for him to accuse her of being unfaithful.

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  • The shopping trip was exciting because it was so close to Christmas, but otherwise uneventful.

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  • It was time to shove those old inhibitions out of their bedroom.

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  • She smiled to herself.

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  • Alex tried to pay, but she wouldn't let him.

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  • It was probably the first money, other than the air fares, Señor Medena had been able to spend on Alex - and even then he had to do it through Felipa.

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  • There had to be more.

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  • That evening all the women got together to wrap gifts.

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  • If she was invited, it was as a guest of Alex, so he would tell her when and if he decided to go.

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  • Felipa tipped her head to the side, as if she was considering that information.

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  • Both were watching her as if she had something earth-shattering to say.

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  • Maybe they all needed to know.

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  • I knew because he proved to me that I could trust him with my heart and soul - the way you trust your mother and father.

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  • Finally her sober gaze came back to Carmen.

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  • Carmen went back to wrapping her present.

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  • This is not enough for Alex to support?

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  • It is not for me to say how he spends his money.

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  • Carmen mentally counted to ten before responding.

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  • I don't want to bond with a child only to have it taken away.

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  • It must be difficult for Alex to keep you happy.

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  • She turned to Carmen.

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  • She would like to have so much attention.

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  • Dulce stood and motioned for Alondra to follow her.

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  • I think Alex makes a concentrated effort to drive his father crazy.

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  • How do they feel about your father offering the estate to Alex?

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  • Dulce watches you and tries to find things you do wrong.

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  • She doesn't have any reason to be jealous of me.

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  • Felipa lifted a steady gaze to Carmen.

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  • How could he do such a thing to his own children?

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  • Maybe Alex wanted to be in control because he had been dominated all his life.

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  • His father was never able to get custody of him as a child.

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  • She shouldn't have encouraged Alex to come down here.

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  • On the other hand, when the issue finally came to a head, she would have been in the middle of it all anyway.

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  • No one wanted to feel forced into anything.

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  • It wasn't as if he had to be there every living minute of his life.

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  • His gaze flitted to Carmen as they passed.

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  • It was nice to hear English spoken without a Spanish accent.

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  • I'm going to bed early.

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  • Dad said we were going to watch some horses race tomorrow.

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  • After flipping through a few channels, Carmen decided to take a long bath.

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  • It wasn't the first time she had gone to bed while he was out on a call, but it was the first time she had done so away from home.

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  • Jonathan said you were taking him to some kind of horse race tomorrow.

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  • Oh, I was supposed to tell you about a party.

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  • I arranged to have their seamstress sew you one.

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  • You're supposed to go down to be measured in the morning.

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  • His gaze dropped to her nightgown and his brows lifted.

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  • Lifting the covers, he climbed into bed and moved close to her.

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  • She cuddled close to him and lifted her face for his affection.

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  • The boxes were heavy, so carrying two of them was too much weight to handle.

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  • Jonathan was up early and ready to go, so Alex hurriedly showered and dressed.

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  • Her calculating gaze ran over Carmen from head to toe and she smiled.

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  • I have much to work with!

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  • Felipa guided them to Alex and Jonathan.

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  • They rounded the corner of the building to see a group of men lounging against the fence, watching a display that made Carmen's blood run cold.

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  • From there the horse dashed in and out of the poles and came to a stop on his haunches.

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  • Then he turned to do it all in reverse.

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  • Alex handed the reins to a caretaker and dusted himself off as he headed for the gate.

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  • The smile faded from his lips and he motioned for Jonathan to join him.

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  • Will you show me how to do that?

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  • "I think your mother would nail my hide to the wall," he responded as he finished putting his belt on.

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  • His gaze lifted innocently to Carmen.

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  • He said they as if the horses belonged to the ranch hands.

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  • Felipa left them to their family outing and returned to the house.

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  • Alex obliged and then the four of them continued to a lot where some horses grazed.

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  • More than likely Alex didn't want to hear any more about danger, though.

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  • He wasn't going to buy it.

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    0
  • His gaze dropped to her face and wandered over it.

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  • To me, a beautiful horse is one that looks friendly.

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  • On the way back to the house, Alex offered to take them to the gulf for a family outing.

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  • Everyone liked the idea, so they returned to their rooms and cleaned up.

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  • The weather was balmy, adding to the enjoyment of the day.

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  • Pleasant as it was, they had to go back.

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  • It is nice to have so many people to take care of your children, yes?

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  • If he thought Alex was warming to him, he saw more than she did.

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  • That night after Jonathan was in bed, Carmen turned to Alex.

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  • Do me a favor and don't listen to Dulce.

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    0
  • The grin faded and he started to look frightened.

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  • He opened the door and spoke quietly to someone.

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  • Alex turned back to her.

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  • In the morning she opened her eyes to find Destiny's face only inches away from hers.

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  • What are we going to do today, Dad?

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  • His gaze shifted to include Carmen.

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  • Is it too far to go to Austin? she asked.

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  • No, not too far, but the party is tonight, so we need to stay close.

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  • Well, whatever we do, I'd like to do it as a family.

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  • His expression was reflective as he continued to regard her.

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  • Maybe they knew what kind of bait to throw out.

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  • Alex was going to college when his parents died in the plane crash.

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  • He was growing up and she needed to keep that in mind - and some things off his mind.

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  • Felipa said it was supposed to be nice outside today.

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  • After lunch, all four of them went outside to play ball.

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  • Jonathan found a stick larger on one end than the other to use for a bat.

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  • How sad that she would be too proud to have fun.

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  • "I will go get your dress," Nina said to Carmen, and left the room.

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  • But then, maybe Alondra was one of those people who simply took a long time to warm to strangers.

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  • She smiled as Carmen put hands to her mouth in surprise.

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  • Why do you want to cover yourself so much?

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    0
  • I would have so much to look at!

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  • Come. It's time for you to join the others.

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  • According to the invitation, the party will be held in the main entrance near the Christmas tree.

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  • Felipa led Carmen to the top of the stairs.

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  • A live band started playing a waltz and he dropped a hand to her waist.

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  • For a minute there I thought you were going to bolt and run.

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  • For a minute there, I was ready to do just that.

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    0
  • It was a strange thing for a man to say.

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  • Most girls wanted to be a princess at some point in their youth, though she couldn't specifically remember that wish.

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  • Certainly she wanted to feel special to Alex - and did.

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    0
  • And he's going to take you to his room after the dance.

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  • A tall young man tapped his shoulder and Alex surrendered her to the second dance of the evening.

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  • Yet he too was an excellent dancer - or maybe everyone's dancing skills were so much better than hers that it only appeared so to her.

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  • Alex was busy talking to a lady with a low-cut bodice.

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  • She was beginning to see why Alex wasn't impressed with Señor Medena.

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  • Carmen turned and tipped her head back to look at the face of the man who towered over her.

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  • He looked to be about her age and his blond hair was neatly combed into a fashionable style.

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  • For some reason it crossed her mind that he would be fun to know.

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  • Dancing with someone that tall was going to be... interesting.

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    0
  • She rested one hand on his upper arm and surrendered her other to a hand that engulfed hers.

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    0
  • We all knew about his family, but the way he acted, it was as if he wanted to hide them from us.

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    0
  • He nodded, his pale eyes darkening enough to twinkle.

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    0
  • I used to work with Alex as a Jr.

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  • But then, Alex hadn't mentioned his family to her, either.

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    0
  • I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable.

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    0
  • If Alex felt the need to protect her from Gerald, maybe she shouldn't be dancing with him.

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  • Carmen smiled to herself.

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    0
  • Of course, she knew Alex well enough now to know he didn't like people to hand out information about him.

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  • Maybe Katie was simply trying to stay out of trouble.

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    0
  • Other than the one time he had lost his temper with her, she had never known him to be anything but gentle.

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  • The memory brought goose bumps to her arms.

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  • "Alex seems to be doing well," he said after a long pause.

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    0
  • He didn't seem to be prompting her.

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  • His gaze dropped to her waist and an eyebrow shot up.

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  • Carmen started to laugh.

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  • That was the first time she had said it to anyone.

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  • Somehow talking to him was easy.

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  • They must have been close, and yet, to the best of her memory, Alex had not spoken of Gerald.

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  • What had happened that made him ditch everything he knew and come to Arkansas?

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