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Colters舗 Promise

Maya Banks




  “If I ever wanted to be adopted into a fictional family, it would be the Kellys … I am devoted to the Kelly brothers.”

  —Fiction Vixen

  “[An] action-packed story.”

  —The Mystery Gazette


  “Fast action is the name of the game … If you’re looking for a sexual, sensual romantic suspense story, look no further.”

  —Night Owl Reviews

  “Great twists and turns.”

  —CK2S Kwips and Kritiques


  “An intriguing mix of military action and sizzling romance.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “This is a new series by Maya Banks and she’s got herself another winner … This story is action packed.”

  —Night Owl Reviews

  “Suspenseful, sinfully sensuous, and straight-up awesome.”

  —Joyfully Reviewed

  “Wrought with a sensual tension.”

  —Romance Junkies


  “Sizzle, sex appeal, and sensuality! Maya Banks has it all … This book is on the inferno side of hot, and it shows on every page … You will not want to miss out on this story.”

  —Romance Junkies

  “An enjoyable tale of [a] second chance at life.”

  —Genre Go Round Reviews


  “Maya Banks never fails to tell compelling tales that evoke an emotional reaction in readers … Kept me on the edge of my seat.”

  —Romance Junkies


  “Surpassed all my expectations. Incredibly intense and complex characters, delicious conflict, and explosive sex scenes that fairly melt the print off the pages, Sweet Persuasion will have Maya Banks fans, new and existing alike, lasciviously begging for more.”

  —RT Book Reviews (4½ stars)

  “Ignites the pages … Readers will relish Maya Banks’s exciting erotic romance.”

  —The Best Reviews

  “Well written and evocative.”

  —Dear Author


  “I absolutely loved it! Simply wonderful writing. There’s a new star on the rise and her name is Maya Banks.”

  —Sunny, national bestselling author of Mona Lisa Eclipsing

  “Fascinating erotic romantic suspense.”

  —Midwest Book Review


  “This story ran my heart through the wringer more than once.”

  —CK2S Kwips and Kritiques

  “From page one, I was drawn into the story and literally could not stop reading until the last page.”

  —The Romance Studio

  “Maya Banks’s story lines are always full of situations that captivate readers, but it’s the emotional pull you experience which brings the story to life.”

  —Romance Junkies


  “[It] is the ultimate in pleasurable reading. Enticing, enchanting, and sinfully sensual, I couldn’t have asked for a better anthology.”

  —Joyfully Reviewed

  “Full of emotional situations, lovable characters, and kick-butt story lines that will leave you desperate for more … For readers who like spicy romances with a suspenseful element—it’s definitely a must-read!”

  —Romance Junkies

  “Totally intoxicating, For Her Pleasure is one of those reads you won’t be forgetting anytime soon.”

  —The Road to Romance

  Berkley Heat titles by Maya Banks









  Berkley Sensation titles by Maya Banks








  (with Shayla Black)


  (with Karin Tabke and Sylvia Day)






  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada

  (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL,

  England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin

  Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community

  Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive,

  Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books

  (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s

  imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business

  establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over

  and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


  A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author


  Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / June 2012

  Copyright © 2012 by Maya Banks.

  Excerpt from Echoes at Dawn by Maya Banks copyright © 2012 by Maya Banks.

  Cover art by S. Miroque.

  Cover photos: “Young Couple” by Andreas Gradin/Shutterstock;

  “Landscape” by Subbotina Anna/Shutterstock.

  Cover design by Rita Frangie.

  Interior text design by Kristin del Rosario.

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or

  electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of

  copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  ISBN: 978-1-101-58858-1


  Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  BERKLEY SENSATION® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is

  stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the

  author nor the
publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”



  For all the readers who have loved and supported

  the Colter series from the start.

  This is for everyone who wanted “more”

  and wanted to see Lily further into

  the happy relationship she deserves.


  I can honestly say that I never intended to make Colters’ Woman into a series. Colters’ Legacy happened because readers asked for more. And they kept asking. They persevered, and so I decided to write Colters’ Lady and Colters’ Daughter. But even then, readers wanted just a little more. They wanted to see Lily with her three husbands who adored her and they wanted to see her happy and safe. They wanted to see Max and Callie a little further down the road and not so raw from their volatile relationship. But most of all, they wanted to see the original Colters, Holly, Adam, Ethan, and Ryan, and see once more the foundation of the entire Colter family. And that even after so many years, the love that was forged between Holly and her three very special men endures. In so many ways, Colters’ Woman had a huge impact on my career as a writer, and I can only credit my wonderful readers with that. You guys have made so much possible for me. Every story that’s come after. Every opportunity I’ve had to continue providing you with stories that I hope give you a few hours of enjoyment. I owe all of that to you.

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Echoes at Dawn


  LILY Colter sat in the small waiting room of the doctor’s office, glancing nervously out the window that overlooked Main Street in Clyde, Colorado. Across the street was her husband’s—one of them—office. Seth was sheriff of the small town.

  She’d parked around back because sooner or later, Dillon, another of her husbands, would drive through on his way to his pub, and he’d most certainly see her SUV in front of the doctor’s office, which would cause him to barge in, demanding to know if everything was all right.

  Michael, the middle Colter brother and the third man she called husband, was safely ensconced in his own veterinary office outside of town, so she wouldn’t need to worry about running into him. Hopefully.

  Her stomach simply wouldn’t settle and she didn’t know if it was because of nerves or because—

  She couldn’t think of that yet. She closed her eyes and squeezed her fingers into tight balls in her lap. It did no good to borrow trouble. Her mother-in-law, Holly Colter, would be the first to tell her that.

  It could be some weird stomach bug. Hadn’t there been something going around Clyde in the last week? But her issues had presented themselves long before last week and she knew it.

  She was unbelievably tired, she was sick over the most ordinary smells, and her breasts were so tender that the slightest pressure made her wince.

  The night before when her husbands had made love to her, it had been all she could do not to cry out—in pain—when they lavished gentle attention on her breasts, and she knew then that she had to confront her denial and see the doctor.

  “Lily Colter.”

  Lily looked up to see the nurse standing in the doorway smiling at her. Slowly, Lily pushed herself from the chair and trudged across the room.

  The nurse was bright and bubbly, but then Tina always was. If she noticed that Lily wasn’t quite herself, she refrained from prying too much.

  When, however, she began to take Lily’s vitals and ask routine care questions about the reason for her visit, Lily murmured, “I’ll discuss it with Dr. Burton.”

  Tina didn’t pursue the matter. She quietly finished taking Lily’s blood pressure and temperature, patted Lily reassuringly on the hand, and then promised that Dr. Burton would be along shortly.

  Lily slumped against the chair and eyed the exam table nervously. She was scared, uncertain, and worried over what Dr. Burton would say—what she was certain he would say.

  A moment later, a light knock sounded and the door pushed open. Dr. Burton stuck his head inside, smiled, and then ambled in.

  He took a seat across from Lily at the small table and opened the laptop he used for patient notes and records. He met her gaze over the top of the computer and studied her. “So, what brings you in today, Lily?”

  If he noted the oddity of her not having at least one of her husbands or another family member present, he didn’t say anything. But then there were some things, as she’d learned, that she had to do alone.

  This was one of them.

  “I think …” She closed her eyes. “I suspect … I could be pregnant.”

  When she reopened her eyes, Dr. Burton’s were soft with understanding. But instead of saying anything, offering sympathy or reassurance, he merely nodded and then said, “Well, it seems to me the first thing we ought to do before we go any further is do a pregnancy test. Wouldn’t you agree?”

  She nodded.

  “Have you performed an over-the-counter test? Those things are pretty accurate.”

  She shook her head. “I came here first.”

  “Well, it won’t take but a moment. I’ll get Tina back in here. She’ll have you give her a urine specimen. If it turns out you’re pregnant, then we’ll go from there. No sense getting all het up for nothing, right?”

  She took in a shaky breath. “No, you’re right.”

  He patted her on the hand and then rose. He leaned out the door and bellowed down the hall for Tina. A moment later, Tina returned, rolling her eyes at the elderly doctor.

  She showed Lily into the bathroom and gave her the instructions, which Lily didn’t really need, but she stared blankly and nodded as if she had no clue what was expected of her.

  Maybe she should have just done one of those stick pregnancy things. At least then she would be home, alone, and not in front of someone else when she received the shock of her life.

  A few moments later, she exited the bathroom and returned to her tiny exam room to wait. And wait. Each minute that ticked by seemed like an eternity. She kept eyeing her phone nervously, knowing that eventually someone would figure out she wasn’t at home and would want to know what she was up to. And she hated lying. But what was she supposed to say? If she said she was at the doctor’s, she’d have no fewer than three people in the waiting room for her when she got out. If she lied and then someone saw her and casually mentioned her whereabouts, it would be even messier.

  She sighed, leaned her head down onto the table, and closed her eyes.

  Breathe. Just breathe, Lily. They promised it would be different. They swore what happened with Rose wouldn’t happen again.

  Tears gathered, stinging her eyes and drawing up her nose. She’d gained so much strength during the last two years. Strength she hadn’t imagined she possessed. A newfound happiness and independence she would have thought beyond her reach.

  But this … This had the power to destroy her all over again.

  The door opened.

  She yanked her head up to meet Dr. Burton’s gaze. She stared hard, trying to see something. Some sign.

  He came in and sat across from her, his expression still unreadable. Some of the tension started to unknot in her stomach until he reached over to slide his wrinkled hand over hers. He squeezed and her world tilted sideways.

  “Lily, my dear, you are indeed pregnant.”

  Even though she’d known, she’d suspected, the news still came like ice-cold water thrown over her head. Her mouth opened in automatic denial, but she clamped her lips shut and dug he
r teeth into the bottom one to prevent the sound of dismay from escaping.

  Dr. Burton’s eyes softened in sympathy. “I know the news isn’t ideal and probably not what you wanted to hear. But is it so bad?”

  Lily’s eyes watered. “I don’t understand. I was so careful. I took all my pills.” Her cheeks colored at the next admission, but he was her doctor and they’d certainly been down this road before. “We don’t use condoms anymore. Maybe I should have insisted we continue. I know they would have done anything for me. But I’d hoped after I started on birth control that we wouldn’t need to.”

  The doctor squeezed her hand again. “Birth control isn’t one hundred percent effective. It’s close, but you’d be surprised at how many ‘oops’ babies I’ve delivered over the years. Sometimes these things just happen, and I’m always convinced that if God intends it, then he finds a way for it to happen. Maybe this baby was just meant to be.”

  And Rose wasn’t?

  She wanted to scream it. Why was this baby more deserving of a chance than her sweet, darling daughter had been?

  She pushed her knuckles to her mouth and rocked back and forth, desperately trying to maintain control and hold back her grief before it exploded out of her.

  Dr. Burton sighed. “I’m going to write a script for some vitamins, and I want you to start taking them. You’ll also need to make another appointment on your way out. I want to draw some blood before you leave just so we can take a look at things. My suggestion is to take a few days and think this over. Don’t react in the moment. Give it some time to settle in and then you might see that it’s not such a bad thing after all. You know those boys will be all over you, and their parents won’t be any different. You’ll have help, Lily. You won’t face this alone.”

  “Thank you,” she murmured. She even tried to return his reassuring smile, but she failed miserably.

  The rest of the visit was a blur. Tina came in and drew several vials of blood before handing her a prescription along with some samples of prenatal vitamins that she wanted Lily to start on right away.