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Skin Deep: The O'Hurleys

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

  Skin Deep

  Without a Trace

  Dance to the Piper

  The Donovan Legacy





  Cordina’s Royal Family

  Affaire Royale

  Command Performance

  The Playboy Prince

  Cordina’s Crown Jewel

  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 / August 1988

  InterMix eBook edition / January 2012

  Copyright © 1988 by Nora Roberts.

  Excerpt from The Witness copyright © 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: 978-1-101-56828-6


  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.

  To my sisters,

  Mary Anne, Carol, Bobbi, Carolyn, Maxine,

  Reba, Barbara and Joyce, all of whom I’ve been

  lucky enough to inherit through marriage.

  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

  Excerpt from The Witness


  “I don’t know what we’re going to do with that girl.”

  “Now, Molly.” With his eye on the mirror, Frank O’Hurley added a touch of pancake makeup to his chin to make certain his face didn’t shine onstage. “You worry too much.”

  “Worry?” As she twisted to pull the zipper up the back of her dress, Molly remained at the dressing room door so that she could watch the corridor backstage. “Frank, we have four children and I love every one of them. But Chantel’s middle name is trouble.”

  “You’re too hard on the girl.”

  “Because you’re not hard enough.”

  Frank chuckled, then turned around to scoop his wife into his arms. More than twenty years of marriage hadn’t dulled his feelings for her a whit. She was still his Molly, pretty and bright, even though she was the mother of his twenty-year-old son and his three teenage daughters. “Molly, my love, Chantel’s a beautiful young girl.”

  “And she knows it.” Molly peeked over Frank’s shoulder at the backstage door, willing it to open. Where was that girl? They had fifteen minutes before they were due onstage, and Chantel had yet to make an appearance.

  When she had given birth to her three daughters, each within minutes of the next, she hadn’t known that the first one would give her more to worry about than the other two combined.

  “It’s her looks that are going to get her in trouble,” Molly muttered. “When a girl looks like Chantel, boys are bound to come sniffing around.”

  “She can handle the boys.”

  “Maybe that worries me, too. She handles them too well.” How could she expect a man as simple and kind-hearted as her Frank to understand the complexities of women? Instead, she fell back on an old standard. “She’s only sixteen, Frank.”

  “And how old were you when you and I—?”

  “That was different,” Molly said, but she was forced to laugh at the grin Frank sent her. “Well, it was.” She straightened his tie, then brushed powder from his lapels as she spoke. “She might not have the good fortune to meet a man like you.”

  Cupping his hands under her elbows, he held her still. “What kind of man is that?”

  With her hands on his shoulders, she looked at his face. It was thin and already lined, but the eyes were the eyes of the smooth-talking boy she’d lost her head over. Though he’d never quite come up with that moon on a silver platter that he’d once promised her, they were partners in every sense of the word. For better or worse—through thick and thin. There had been a lot of thin. She’d spent more than half of her life with the man, Molly thought, and he could still charm her.

  “A dear one,” she told him, and brought her lips to his. At the sound of the back door closing, Molly pulled away.

  “Now don’t jump on her, Molly,” Frank began as he caught his wife’s arm. “You know it’ll just put her back up, and she’s here now.”

  Grumbling, Molly drew away as Chantel danced down the corridor. She was wearing a vivid red sweater and snug black slacks that showed off her blooming young shape. The brisk fall air had whipped color into her cheeks, highlighting already elegant bones. Her eyes were a deep, deep blue and held a breezy, self-satisfied expression.


  With her natural flair for drama and timing, Chantel paused outside the door of the dressing room she shared with her sisters. “Mom.” Her lips turned up at the corners, and the smile spread farther when she saw her father wink at her over Molly’s shoulder. She knew she could always count on Pop. “I know I’m a little late, but I’ll be ready. I had the most wonderful time.” Excitement added spark to beauty. “Michael let me drive his car.”

  “That fancy little red number—?” Frank began. Then he coughed into his hand as Molly leveled him with a look.

  “Chantel, you’ve only had your license a few weeks.” How she hated to lecture, Molly thought as she wound herself up for it. She knew what it was to be sixteen, and because of that, she knew there was no way around what she had to do. “Your father and I don’t think you’re ready to drive unless one of us is with you. And in any case,” she continued before Chantel could get out her first protest, “it isn’t smart to get behind the wheel of someone else’s car.”

  “We were on the back roads.” Chantel came over and kissed her mother on both cheeks. “Don’t worry so much. I have to have some fun or I’ll just shrivel up.”

  Molly recognized the ploy too well, and she stood firm. “Chantel, you’re too young to go off in some boy’s car.”

  “Michael’s not a boy. He’s twenty-one.”

  “That only makes my point.”

  “He’s a creep,” Trace announced calmly as he came into the corridor. He only lifted a brow when Chantel turned on him, eyes flashing. “And if I find out he’s touched you, I’ll rip his face off.”

  “It’s none of your business,” Chantel told him. It was one thing to be lectured by her mother, quite another to hear it from her brother. “I’m sixteen, not six, and I’m sick and tired of being hovered over.”

  “Too bad.” He took her chin in his hand, holding it steady when she tried to jerk away. He had a rougher, masculine version of Chantel’s beauty. Looking at them, Frank felt pride swell in him until he thought he was going to burst. They were the fire-eaters of the family, more like their mother than him. He loved them with all his heart.

  “All right now, all right.” Playing peacemaker, he stepped up. “We’ll get into all this business later. Right now, Chantel has to change. Ten minutes, princess,” he murmured. “Don’t dawdle. Come on, Molly, let’s go warm up the crowd.”

  Molly sent Chantel a quiet look that warned her the business wasn’t over, then softened and touched her daughter’s cheek. “We’ve a right to worry about you, you know.”

  “Maybe.” Chantel’s chin was still high. “But you don’t need to. I can take care of myself.”

  “I’m afraid you can.” With a little sigh, she walked with her husband down toward the small stage where they would earn their living for the rest of the week.

  Far from mollified, Chantel put her hand on the knob of the door behind her before she faced her brother. “I decide who touches me, Trace. Remember that.”

  “Just make sure your friend with the fancy car behaves himself. Unless you’d like both his arms broken.”

  “Oh, go to hell.”

  “Probably will,” he said easily. Then he tugged her hair. “I’ll be clearing a path for you, little sister.”

  Because she wanted to laugh, Chantel yanked open the door, then shut it in his face.

  Maddy glanced over as she buttoned the back of Abby’s costume. “So, you decided to show up.”

  “Don’t you start.” Moving quickly, Chantel pulled a dress that matched her sisters’ off an iron bar that spanned the width of the room.

  “Wouldn’t dream of it. Sounded interesting out in the hall, though.”

  “I wish they’d stop fussing over me.” Chantel tossed the dress down, then peeled off her sweater. The skin below was pale and smooth, the curves already soft and feminine.

  “Look at it this way,” Maddy said as she finished Abby’s buttons. �
�They’re so busy fussing at you, they hardly ever pick on Abby and me.”

  “You owe me.” Chantel slipped out of her slacks with brisk movements and stood in bra and panties.

  “Mom really was worried,” Abby interjected. Since her own makeup and hair were finished, she arranged the tubes and pots that would set Chantel’s face for the stage.

  Feeling a little pang of guilt, Chantel plopped down in front of the mirror the three of them shared. “She didn’t have to be. I was fine. I had fun.”

  “Did he really let you drive his car?” Interested, Maddy picked up a brush to fix Chantel’s hair.

  “Yeah. It felt … I don’t know, it felt important.” She glanced around the cramped, windowless room with its concrete floor and dingy walls. “I’m not always going to be in a dump like this, you know.”

  “Now you sound like Pop.” With a smile, Abby handed her a makeup sponge.

  “Well, I’m not.” With years of experience already behind her, Chantel added the color to her face in quick strokes. “One day I’m going to have a dressing room three times this big. All white, with carpet so thick you’ll sink up to your ankles.”

  “I’d rather have color,” Maddy said, dreaming herself for a moment. “Lots and lots of color.”

  “White,” Chantel repeated firmly. Then she stood to put on her dress. “And it’s going to have a star on the door. I’m going to ride in a limo and have a sports car that makes Michael’s look like a toy.” Her eyes darkened as she pulled on the dress, which had been mended too many times to count. “And a house with acres of garden and a big stone pool.”

  Because dreams were part of their heritage, Abby elaborated as she did up Chantel’s buttons. “When you walk into a restaurant, the maître d’ will recognize you and give you the best table and a bottle of champagne on the house.”

  “You’ll be gracious to photographers,” Maddy went on, handing Chantel her earrings. “And never refuse an autograph.”

  “Naturally.” Enjoying herself, Chantel clipped the glass stones at her ears, thinking of diamonds. “There’ll be two enormous suites in the house for each of my sisters. We’ll sit up at night and eat caviar.”