Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

The MacGregor Grooms

Nora Roberts

  Nora Roberts

  Hot Ice

  Sacred Sins

  Brazen Virtue

  Sweet Revenge

  Public Secrets

  Genuine Lies

  Carnal Innocence

  Divine Evil

  Honest Illusions

  Private Scandals

  Hidden Riches

  True Betrayals

  Montana Sky



  The Reef

  River’s End

  Carolina Moon

  The Villa

  Midnight Bayou

  Three Fates


  Northern Lights

  Blue Smoke

  Angels Fall

  High Noon


  Black Hills

  The Search

  Chasing Fire


  Irish Born Trilogy

  Born in Fire

  Born in Ice

  Born in Shame

  Dream Trilogy

  Daring to Dream

  Holding the Dream

  Finding the Dream

  Chesapeake Bay Saga

  Sea Swept

  Rising Tides

  Inner Harbor

  Chesapeake Blue

  Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy

  Jewels of the Sun

  Tears of the Moon

  Heart of the Sea

  Three Sisters Island Trilogy

  Dance Upon the Air

  Heaven and Earth

  Face the Fire

  Key Trilogy

  Key of Light

  Key of Knowledge

  Key of Valor

  In the Garden Trilogy

  Blue Dahlia

  Black Rose

  Red Lily

  Circle Trilogy

  Morrigan’s Cross

  Dance of the Gods

  Valley of Silence

  Sign of Seven Trilogy

  Blood Brothers

  The Hollow

  The Pagan Stone

  Bride Quartet

  Vision in White

  Bed of Roses

  Savor the Moment

  Happy Ever After

  The Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy

  The Next Always


  The O’Hurleys

  The Last Honest Woman

  Dance to the Piper

  Skin Deep

  Without a Trace

  The Donovan Legacy





  Cordina’s Royal Family

  Affaire Royale

  Command Performance

  The Playboy Prince

  Cordina’s Crown Jewel

  The MacGregors

  Playing the Odds

  Tempting Fate

  All the Possibilities

  One Man’s Art

  The MacGregor Brides

  The Winning Hand

  The MacGregor Grooms

  The Perfect Neighbor

  Rebellion & In from the Cold

  Night Tales

  Night Shift

  Night Shadow


  Night Smoke

  Night Shield

  Nora Roberts & J. D. Robb

  Remember When

  J. D. Robb

  Naked in Death

  Glory in Death

  Immortal in Death

  Rapture in Death

  Ceremony in Death

  Vengeance in Death

  Holiday in Death

  Conspiracy in Death

  Loyalty in Death

  Witness in Death

  Judgment in Death

  Betrayal in Death

  Seduction in Death

  Reunion in Death

  Purity in Death

  Portrait in Death

  Imitation in Death

  Divided in Death

  Visions in Death

  Survivor in Death

  Origin in Death

  Memory in Death

  Born in Death

  Innocent in Death

  Creation in Death

  Strangers in Death

  Salvation in Death

  Promises in Death

  Kindred in Death

  Fantasy in Death

  Indulgence in Death

  Treachery in Death

  New York to Dallas


  From the Heart

  A Little Magic

  A Little Fate

  Moon Shadows

  (with Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Marianne Willman)

  The Once Upon Series

  (with Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Marianne Willman)

  Once Upon a Castle

  Once Upon a Rose

  Once Upon a Star

  Once Upon a Kiss

  Once Upon a Dream

  Once Upon a Midnight

  Silent Night

  (with Susan Plunkett, Dee Holmes, and Claire Cross)

  Out of This World

  (with Laurell K. Hamilton, Susan Krinard, and Maggie Shayne)

  Bump in the Night

  (with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  Dead of Night

  (with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  Three in Death

  Suite 606

  (with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  In Death

  The Lost

  (with Patricia Gaffney, Mary Blayney, and Ruth Ryan Langan)

  The Other Side

  (with Mary Blayney, Patricia Gaffney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  The Unquiet

  (with Mary Blayney, Patricia Gaffney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  Also available…

  The Official Nora Roberts Companion

  (edited by Denise Little and Laura Hayden)


  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 control over and does not have any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


  An InterMix Book / published by arrangement with the author


  Harlequin Books edition / October 1998

  InterMix eBook edition / April 2012

  Copyright © 1998 by Nora Roberts.
/>   Excerpt from The Witness copyright © 2012 by Nora Roberts.

  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: 978-1-101-56947-4


  InterMix Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  INTERMIX and the “IM” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  For Mom and Pop








  Special Excerpt

  From the Private Memoirs


  Daniel Duncan MacGregor

  At my stage of life, the years pass quickly, with season rushing into season. Every moment should be savored and lived to the fullest.

  Of course, I felt the same way when I was thirty!

  Now, in the last handful of years, I’ve watched four of my beloved grandchildren find love, marry and start families. Laura, then Gwen; Julia, then Mac. Happiness beams out of their eyes; contentment shines in their voices. Each has built a home and a life with the mate of their heart.

  So why, I ask you, did it take them so damn long?

  Hah! If it hadn’t been for me they’d still be foundering around, and there wouldn’t be a single great-grandchild for Anna to cuddle and spoil, would there? But do I ask for gratitude? No, indeed. As long as I’m head of this family I’ll do my duty without the need for thank-yous. It’s my duty, and my pleasure, to see that my chicks are comfortably—and properly—roosted.

  It would seem, with all this marital bliss going on, that the other grandchildren would get the hint and follow the fine example of their siblings and cousins. But no, no, the MacGregors are a stubborn and independent lot. And God bless them for it.

  Thankfully, I’m still around to see that things get done. I saw three of my girls to the altar and gave my first grandson his nudge. Some say it’s interference. Bah. I say it’s wisdom. I’ve decided it’s time to apply a little wisdom to my namesake, Daniel Campbell MacGregor.

  Now he’s a fine boy—sharp as a whiplash, if a mite temperamental. Handsome, too. Looks a bit like I did at his age, so he doesn’t lack for female companionship. That’s part of the problem, as I see it. Too much quantity and not enough quality.

  We’ve found a way to fix that.

  D.C.’s an artist, which he comes by naturally enough. Though for the life of me I don’t understand half the things he paints, he’s made a fine success out of his work. Now what the boy needs is a woman to share that success, his life, and give him children to center it.

  Not just any woman, mind. A woman with backbone, a woman with brains and ambitions—and breeding. The woman I picked out for him while they were both still children. I’ve been patient, bided my time. I know my boy and just how to handle him.

  A bit perverse is my D.C. The type of man who too often goes left if you tell him he’d be better off turning right. Comes, I suppose, from the eight years of childhood when his father was president and there were so many rules that had to be obeyed.

  Well now, with a little help from an old and dear friend, we’ll get young Daniel Campbell turned in the right direction—and let him think he did it all by himself.

  A wise man doesn’t need thanks—just results.

  Part One


  Chapter 1

  The light poured through the tall windows and splashed on the violent slashes of sapphire and ruby. It washed over the man who stood before the canvas like a warrior at battle, wielding a paintbrush like a claymore.

  He had the face of a warrior—tough, intense, with knife-edged cheekbones adding hollows, a mouth that was full but firmed in concentration. Eyes brilliant blue and icy cold beneath knitted brows the color of old mahogany.

  His hair waved over his ears, curled over the collar of the splattered denim shirt he wore in lieu of a smock. He’d rolled the sleeves up, and the well-toned muscles of his arms rippled as he slashed the brush on canvas.

  He was built like a warrior—broad of shoulder, narrow of hip and long of leg. His feet were bare, his wide and clever hands smeared with paint.

  In his mind he saw explosions of emotion—passion and lust, greed and hunger. And all of this he fought onto the canvas while mean-edged rock pumped out of the stereo and thumped against the air.

  Painting was a war to him—one he was determined to win, battle after battle. When the mood was on him he would work until his arms ached and his fingers cramped. When his mood was otherwise, he could and did ignore his canvases for days, even weeks.

  There were those who said D.C. MacGregor lacked discipline. To those, he said who the devil wanted it?

  As he clamped the brush between his teeth, switched to a palette knife to smear on a bold emerald, his eyes glittered in triumph.

  He had it now. The hours of waging this battle were nearly done. A thin line of sweat slid down the center of his back. The sun beating through the windows was fierce now, and the studio was viciously hot because he’d forgotten to turn on the air-conditioning or open a window to the warm spring air.

  He’d forgotten to eat as well, or check his mail, answer the phone or so much as glance out any of the wonderfully tall windows in his apartment. The energy swirled through him, as potent, as primitive as John Mellencamp’s edgy, streetwise vocals blasting through the room.

  When D.C. stepped back, the brush still clenched like a pirate’s blade in his teeth, the palette knife like a dagger in his hand, that firm, somewhat forbidding mouth curved.

  “That’s it,” he murmured. He put the brush in a jar of solution, began to absently clean the knife as he studied his work. “Need,” he decided. He would call it simply Need.

  For the first time in hours he realized the room was stuffy, the clashing and familiar scents of turpentine and paint thick in the air. He crossed the unpolished hardwood floor and shoved open one of the tall windows, took a deep gulp of fresh air.

  It had been the windows, and this view of the C & O Canal, that had sold him on this apartment when he’d decided to come back to Washington. He’d grown up here, with eight years of his life spent in the White House as first son.

  For a space of time he’d lived and worked in New York, and enjoyed it. He’d also lived and worked in San Francisco, and enjoyed that as well. But all through his restless twenties something had tugged at him. He’d finally given in to it.

  This was home.

  He stood by the window with his hands shoved in the back pockets of ragged jeans. The cherry blossoms were in full, glorious bloom; the canal sparkled in the afternoon light. Joggers plugged away along the towpath.

  D.C. wondered idly what day it was.

  Then, realizing he was starving to death, he left the music blaring and headed to the kitchen.

  The penthouse was two levels, with the top designed for a master bedroom suite. D.C. had made it his studio and slept on a mattress tossed on the floor in the spare room. He hadn’t gotten around to dealing with bed frames.

  Most of his clothes were still in the packing boxes they’d been shipped in nearly two months before. He figured they worked efficiently enough as dressers until he found time to buy the real thing.

  The main floor had a spacious living area ringed by more windows, still undraped. In it, there was a single sofa—the tags still on—a glorious Duncan Phyfe table with a half inch of dust coating its surface, and a floor lamp with a den
ted metal shade. The random-width pine floor was bare and desperately needed vacuuming.

  The dining alcove off the kitchen was empty, the kitchen itself in shambles. What dishes and pots weren’t heaped in the sink were still in boxes. He went directly to the refrigerator and was bitterly surprised to find it empty but for three beers, a bottle of white wine and two eggs.

  He could have sworn he’d gone shopping.

  Rummaging through the cupboards, he came up with a few slices of very moldy bread, a bag of coffee, six boxes of cornflakes and a single can of soup.

  Resigned, he ripped open a box of cereal and ate a handful while debating which he wanted more, coffee or a shower. He’d just decided to make the coffee and take it with him into the shower when the phone rang.

  He noted without much interest that his message light was blinking, and, munching dry cereal, he answered.


  “There’s my boy.”

  And those ice blue eyes went warm, that hard mouth went soft. D.C. leaned against the counter and grinned. “Hey, Grandpa, what are you up to?”

  “Some would say no good.” Daniel’s voice boomed out. “Don’t you return your messages? I’ve talked to your bloody machine half a dozen times in the last few days. Your grandmother wanted to fly down to make sure you weren’t dead in your bed.”

  D.C. only lifted a brow. It was well known that Daniel used his serene wife whenever he wanted to nag the children.

  “I’ve been working.”

  “Good. That’s good, but you can take a breath now and then, can’t you?”

  “I’m taking one now.”

  “I’ve a favor to ask you, D.C. I don’t like to do it.” Daniel let out a heavy sigh and had his grandson’s brow knitting.

  “What do you need?”

  “You won’t like it—God knows I can’t blame you. But I’m in a bit of a fix. Your aunt Myra—”

  “Is she all right?” D.C. straightened from the counter. Myra Dittmeyer was his grandmother’s oldest and dearest friend, his own godmother and an honorary member of the Clan MacGregor. D.C. adored her, and remembered guiltily that he hadn’t been to see her since he returned to Washington six weeks before.

  “Oh, she’s fit and fine, boy. Don’t you worry about that. The woman’s just as feisty as ever. But, well, she has another godchild. I doubt you remember the girl. You’d have met her a time or two when you were a lad. Layna Drake?”

  Concentrating, D.C. got a vague image of a spindly little girl with hair like dandelion fluff. “What about her?”