One Night With You

Grayson Friends (Volume 3)

Francis Ray

St. Martin's Paperbacks

Prologue
Love sometimes needed a helping hand, Ruth Grayson thought as she studied the wedding pictures of her fi ve children on the mantle in her living room. Ruth had taken great pride in seeing that each child found the one person for them to love and be loved by in return.
First, there was Luke, the protector and the oldest. For him, Ruth had chosen Catherine Stewart, a noted child psychologist. Catherine possessed a quiet spirit except when it came to championing abused children or her husband. For Morgan, the defender and Ruth’s second born, the ideal match for him had been Phoe­nix Bannister, a renowned sculptress, who might ap­pear quiet but burned with an inner fire.
Ruth’s gaze moved to the third photo, of her mid­dle child, Brandon, the nurturer. The perfect woman for him was Faith McBride. Faith possessed the same warm, caring spirit as the man she adored. Pierce, the thinker and Ruth’s fourth son, learned there were no rules in love when he fell in love with Sabra Raineau, a Broadway star.
A smile curved Ruth’s mouth upward as she stared at the last photo. Sierra, her youngest child and only daughter, still believed she had chosen her life partner, Blade Navarone, without her mother’s help. It didn’t matter. The important thing was that Sierra, gifted with a knack of discernment, had captured the heart and soul of Blade Navarone, the only man whose pas­sion matched hers.
As Ruth’s fingers touched the smiling faces of Blade and Sierra, she thanked God and the Master of Breath for keeping them from harm when Sierra was kidnapped. Ruth would forever be grateful to Shane and Rio, the two men in charge of Blade’s security at the time, for their expertise and help in bringing ev­eryone home safely.
Ruth’s gaze moved to the picture of Shane Elliott and his smiling bride, Paige, on the coffee table. After receiving Shane and Rio’s help, Ruth had begun to think that they deserved the same blissful happiness that her children had found. It had only taken Paige’s mother, Joann Albright, asking Ruth for assistance in keeping Paige from becoming engaged to an unscru­pulous man for Ruth to set the wheels in motion to bring Paige and Shane together.
Ruth sighed and thought of Rio—silent, watchful. He would require more in-depth thought and study, but there  wasn’t a shred of doubt in Ruth’s mind that the woman for Rio was out there, waiting. Ruth and her sister-in-law, Felicia, wouldn’t rest until they’d brought the two together.
In the meantime, Ruth had another opportunity to possibly give love a helping hand.
She picked up the picture next to Shane and Paige’s, a wedding photo of Cameron McBride and Caitlin Lawrence. The picture included the couple’s cute and precious son, Joshua; the groom’s brother, Duncan, and sister, Faith, and Brandon; and the groom’s di­vorced parents, Paul and Stella McBride, who stood as far away from each other as possible.
Ruth’s heart went out to Stella. She’d learned too late that the grass  wasn’t always greener on the other side. A tough lesson to learn at any age, but particu­larly daunting for a woman past sixty. Divorcing Paul, as Stella readily admitted to Ruth more than once and again during her unexpected phone call an hour ago, was the worst mistake of her life.
Stella lived with regret each moment of every day. Loneliness, not the man she loved, was her compan­ion. She didn’t want the same hopeless existence for her older son, Duncan. While Duncan wouldn’t take his ex-wife back on a platinum platter, his unhappy marriage had hardened his heart toward women in general and love in particular. The McBride family curse—successful in business and unhappy in love— probably wasn’t helping him move forward.
Duncan’s brother and sister might have beaten the odds, but Ruth could understand that as the oldest, he probably thought, looking at his unhappy parents, that the family curse  couldn’t be escaped.
Ruth believed otherwise. It wouldn’t be easy to make him see the possibilities instead of the pitfalls. It would take a special woman to stand up to a strong, commanding man such as Duncan McBride on his Montana ranch.
The opportunity to do just that had just presented itself. Ruth replaced the photo and moved to the tele­phone in the kitchen and dialed Raven La Blanc’s number. Brilliant, perceptive, and as inde pendent as they came, Raven was a friend and a fellow professor at St. John’s College in Santa Fe. She had once told Ruth that she wanted stability and permanence more than anything in the world.
Raven needed to learn that security wasn’t always a place.
“Hello.”
Ruth straightened. Time would tell if she was able to help another mother’s plea to aid her child. “Ra­ven, it’s Ruth. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity just presented itself and I immediately thought of you.”

Excerpted from One Night With You by Francis Ray.
Copyright © 2009 by Francis Ray.
Published in November 2009 by St. Martin's Press.
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