After the night

By: Linda Howard

Synopsis

FAITH DEVLON: A poor, outcast child in Prescott, Louisiana, she’d always adored the town’s golden boy from afar. But he called her white trash that sultry Southern night when his rich, respected father disappeared, along with her pretty Mom. Now Faith wanted to hate Gray Rouillard…not to feel a powerful surge of desire. But she couldn’t quench her passion, any more than she could hide the truth about the past she had waited so long to unravel.

GRAY ROUILLARD: Even when he raised hell, he did it with style. Reckless, charming, and backed by Rouillard money, Gray controlled the town of Prescott – and Devlin was a name he never wanted to hear again. But when he gazed at Faith Devlin, all he saw was a swirl of tangled, sheets and her silken flesh beneath him. To care for her was impossible, unthinkable…because Gray Rouillard planned to use all his power to ruin her.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

An Original Publication of POCKET BOOKS

POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc. 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10.020

Copyright © 1995 by Linda Howington

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10.020

ISBN: 0-671-79.936-3

First Pocket Books printing December 1995

10.987.654.321

POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster Inc. Stepback photo by Franco Accornero Printed in the U.S.A.



One

It was a good day for dreaming. It was late in the afternoon, the sun throwing long shadows when it could manage to break through the thick woods, but for the most part the translucent golden light was tangled in the tops of the trees, leaving the forest floor mysteriously shadowed. The hot, humid summer air was redolent with the pink sweetness of honeysuckle nectar, all mingled with the rich, brown odor of the earth and rotting vegetation as well as the crisp green scent of the leaves. Odors had color for Faith Devlin, and since she’d been a little girl she had entertained herself by coldring the smells around her. Most of the colors were obvious, drawn from the way something looked. Of course the earth smelled brown; of course that fresh, tangy scent of leaves would be green in her mind. Grapefruit smelled bright yellow; she’d never eaten one, but once had picked up one in the grocery store and hesitantly sniffed its skin, and the scent had exploded on her taste buds, sour and sweet all at the same time. The smell of things was easy to color in her mind; the color scent of people was more difficult, because people were never just one thing, but different colors mixed together. Colors didn’t mean the same in people smells that they did in thing smells. Her mother, Renee, had a dark, spicy red scent, with a few sworls of black and yellow, but the spicy red almost crowded out all the other colors. Yellow was good in things, but not in people; neither was green, or at least some shades of it. Her father, Amos, was a sickening mixture of green, purple, yellow, and black. That one was real easy, because from a very early age she had associated him with vomit. Drink and puke, drink and puke, that’s all Pa did. Well, and pee. He peed a lot.

The best smell in the world, Faith thought as she meandered through the woods, staring up at the captured sunlight and holding her secret happiness cradled deep in her chest, was Gray Rouillard. Faith lived for the glimpses of him she got in town, and if she was close enough to hear the deep, dark rumble of his voice, she trembled with joy. Today she’d gotten close enough to smell him, and he had actually touched her! She was still giddy from the experience.

She had gone into the drugstore in Prescott with Jodie, her older sister, because Jodie had stolen a couple of bucks from Renee’s purse and wanted to buy some fingernail polish. Jodie’s smell was orange and yellow, a pale imitation of Renee’s scent. They had been coming out of the drugstore, the precious hot pink polish carefully tucked into Jodie’s bra so Renee wouldn’t see it. Jodie had been wearing a bra for almost three years now, and she was only thirteen, a fact she used to taunt Faith whenever she thought about it, because Faith was eleven and still didn’t have any boobs. Lately Faith’s flat, childish little nipples had begun to swell, though, and she was in an agony of embarrassment that someone would notice them. She had been intensely conscious of them poking out under the thin, purple LSU T-shirt she wore, but when they almost collided with Gray on the sidewalk as he was going into the drugstore and they were coming out, Faith forgot about the flimsiness of her shirt.

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