THURSDAY — 10 AM — ASPEN, COLORADO
A shadow of alarm touched Janice Kelly’s face, and she stepped back from the three-legged easel, tossing her paintbrush into a jar of cloudy water. The painting before her had changed background colors again. On its own. No, she brought herself up sharply. Paintings did not change colors by themselves. She had done it. She had changed the colors. She let her gaze travel across the now bright yellow background, struggling with the uncertainty it aroused. Had her divorce from Jimmy finally sent her mind over the edge? If so, this mind-fugue was dangerous. She might hurt someone. She might hurt Sarah. Horrified, she raised a hand to her temple. Damn! If she weren’t careful, she’d work herself into a full-blown migraine.
Unaware of the streaks of brightly colored paint she was dabbing into her flaming red hair, she rubbed the sore spot vigorously. This was no regular headache she was battling. That’s why the pills she’d taken this morning had done nothing to quiet it. No, she’d experienced this kind of pain before, and she knew what it meant. Now, more than ever, she could not put off her trip to Maine tomorrow. She had to go and not just for the debt she owed to her mentor.
Fingers trailing down her temples, she strode back to the easel and began to pack up her paints. She needed sleep desperately — the dead-to-the-world kind. She had been on a five-state gallery tour for months, skipping meals, signing autographs and hopping trains. And now, just when she got home, she was leaving again. No wonder her face had looked pale and pinched when she woke this morning. She was so tired her nerves throbbed. “Mama, what’s a Si-Pip?”
Janice jumped at the sound of the high-pitched voice and quickly brought her gaze from the paints to the open doorway. Her eyes lit with pleasure as she spied her daughter, Sarah, bouncing from foot to foot in the middle of the alcove.
“Sarah, sweetie, I don’t think I know that word. Where did you hear it?”
“From Aunt Bibi.” She bounded through the doorway and sailed onto a cushioned workbench beside Janice. Once there, she eyed the huge canvas. “Is that my Daddy, Mama?”
Janice grinned, amused.
“No, sweetie, I don’t know who the man is.”
“Aunt Bibi told Uncle Roddy he’s your dream lover.”
Janice’s grin vanished, replaced by a quick frown.
“I’ve asked you not to spy on your aunt and uncle, Sarah, remember?”
“Uh-huh.” She tucked her feet beneath her rump and tipped her face to Janice. “Who is he, Mama?”
Her persistence brought Janice’s focus back to the painting, and she let her gaze sweep the dove gray breeches and matching topcoat. An absolutely gorgeous rake. And her sister was right. She was becoming enamored with the handsome figure she had painted, seemed inexplicably drawn to him.
“He’s just a man I’ve been seeing in a dream, sweetie.”
“Yes, he is. Devilishly handsome.”
“Is he as devilish as me?”
The question was cheeky, and Janice chuckled, tweaking one of Sarah’s bright red curls. Sarah was an adorable poppet, no doubt about it. She took a moment to study the snow-blasted
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