Cole Cameron's Revenge(5)

By: Sandra Marton



From that moment on, the only thing Cole believed in was getting rich.

And the only thing he wanted was revenge.





CHAPTER ONE



Liberty, Georgia, today.

JUNE had come to Georgia, bringing with it heat so fierce it might have been midsummer. Even now, at a little before nine in the morning, the air was thick and weighted with humidity.

Faith, sitting before her dressing-table mirror, all but groaned with despair. Any other morning, she wouldn't have been bothered by the weather. She'd grown up in the South and she knew that the only way to deal with summer was to ignore it. You scraped your hair into a ponytail, put on shorts, T-shirt and sandals, and left your face scrubbed and bare.

But not today.

In just over an hour, she had a meeting with Sam Jergen, Ted's lawyer. She had to look like Faith Cameron, not Faith Davenport. Jergen didn't like her. He still thought of her as a seventeen-year-old tramp who'd trapped his client into marriage nine long years ago. She'd known that the minute she'd met him, but the lawyer wasn't stupid. He'd been careful to treat her with respect while Ted was alive.

He gave up the pretense the day of the funeral.

"Sorry for your trouble, Miz Davenport," Jergen had said as he took her hand, and then he'd smiled slyly. "Sorry about that. I meant Miz Cameron, of course."

Of course, Faith thought, tightening her jaw.

What he'd really meant to call her was one of the names the town used for her, but she hadn't given him the pleasure of reacting. She wouldn't today, either, even though she figured he'd do his best to demean her.

Tears blurred Faith's eyes.

Ted, gone.

She still couldn't believe it, that her husband had lost his life in an automobile accident on a rain-slicked back road between Liberty and Atlanta. The weeks since then had gone by in a haze. There'd been people coming and going, supposedly to offer their condolences but really, she knew, to get a first good look at her now that nobody was around to protect her from gossip.

It was old gossip, but what did that matter? Gossip could linger for a lifetime in a place like Liberty, especially when it was juicy. And what could have been more juicy than her quick trip up the altar with one Cameron brother after she'd been ditched by the other ... except, maybe, the speed with which she'd become pregnant?

Faith picked up her brush and stroked it through her hair.

Oh, if only she could cancel today's meeting-but there wasn't any point in putting off what had to be done. Jergen had made it clear this was important.

"It's about your husband's estate," he'd said.

She'd almost told him to stop trying to sound so officious. What would take place this morning wasn't any surprise. This was the formal reading of Ted's will but she knew what was in it. Her practical husband had insisted on telling her the details of the document he'd suddenly decided to draw up a year ago.

He'd left everything to her, in trust for Peter. "It's his birthright," he'd said.

Faith had hesitated. "Are you sure you don't want to leave something to..." She couldn't say the name. "To your brother?"

Ted's eyes had darkened, just enough so she knew that time hadn't dulled the pain he felt. He hadn't heard from Cole since he'd sent him the letter about their marriage. Though they never talked about it, she knew he was blind to the truth; he couldn't or wouldn't see Cole for what he was, but she understood that. Love could warp your judgment. Hadn't she wept nights for Cole, even after he'd abandoned her? She, at least, had come to her senses.

"No," he'd said softly, "there's no point. Cole hated this house. He hated our father. He wouldn't want anything that carries the Cameron name. But I know he'll come back someday, Faith. And when he does, you have to tell him the truth. He's entitled to know he gave you a child, just as Peter has the right to know the man who's really his father."

Faith stared into the mirror. Cole wasn't entitled to anything. Not from her. As for Peter... She couldn't imagine a time she'd want to hurt him by telling him that his real father had run out on her. Her child was better off going through life thinking of Ted as his father. He'd be happy that way, and her son's happiness was all that mattered. It was why she'd agreed to marry Ted-and why she'd decided to leave Liberty, as soon as the formal reading of the will was over.

This morning, after the lawyer finished with all the legal rigmarole, she'd have the money to start life fresh and she was going to do it in a place far from here, a place where "Cameron" was just another name. Making the decision hadn't been easy. Despite everything, Liberty was home. But there was that old saying, something about home being where the heart was.

Without Ted, this place had no heart. The sooner she left, the better.

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