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But always, in her travels, there’d been her father or a chaperon at her side And now here she was, thousands of miles from home, on a trip she’d planned, start to finish, all by herself

Actually, no one even knew about this tnp She’d thought of calling her brothers and telling the away, but what for? Did Cade or Grant or Zach phone her when they were heading off somewhere? Of course they didn’t

Then, why should she?

Stella, the housekeeper, knew And Ted West, who oversaw the stables, had to be told, bu

t that was it

Kyra zipped up her white cotton skirt, then drew a pale yellow T-shirt over her head For the first time ever, she was responsible to absolutely no one but herself

Maybe that hy the Empress seemed such a dream ship, despite her dated accommodations She had chosen the ship on impulse, from an advertisement in the Sunday paper

Adventure! the ad had shrieked Exciteh Seas!

All those capitals and excla

And they did, she thought, s sandals For her fellow travelers, adventure meant visits to sites of pre-Colu if the wheezing old tour buses that greeted the ship at each port would be able to get to the top of the next hill, then betting that their brakes were better than their engines as they rocketed back down to the harbor through one hairpin curve after another

As for romance…it eet to watch white-haired senior citizens dancing cheek to cheek It was also about as close to “roht briskly as she screwed a pair of sold hoops into her ears

As far as she was concerned, the cruise advertiseht perspective Adventure and excitement came first There’d be plenty of ti, long time

Soirls she’d grown up ere engaged to be married She knew that most of them hadn’t led lives as restricted as hers, but even so, as far as she could see, they’d si

Kyra brushed her hair, then put a white baseball cap on her head and adjusted the brim low over her eyes Men—even her brothers—just seemed to be proprietorial as a breed Of course, none of the men she’d ever knoould be anywhere near as proprietorial as that good-looking Spaniard

She could i and co her total attention be centered on hiht

Not that there wouldn’t be compensations Kyra’s breath hitched as she re in his blue eyes, the harsh, almost cruel sensuality of his mouth A man like that would kno to please his woht She’d lie beneath hi for the brush of his lips, the touch of his hand…

Color poured into Kyra’s cheeks

“Honestly,” she said, scowling into thewith you?”

Weeks had passed since that eht at the Arts Center Why should she waste even aabout that horrible man? He certainly wasn’t anybody to fantasize about, not unless you were interested in setting feminism back a couple of centuries

She swung briskly away from the mirror, looped the strap of her white purse around her wnst, and made her way out of her cabin

Mr and Mrs Schiller, the elderly couple in the cabin next to hers, were just locking the door Mrs Schiller looked up and smiled

“Good !”

Kyra s?” she said “We get to spend almost a whole day in Caracas!”

Mr Schiller nodded “Excellent city, Caracas”

Mrs Schiller took her husband’s arroup started toward the elevators

“Won’t you join us for breakfast, Kyra? There’s still half an hour before the bus leaves”

“Thank you, but I’ht I’d see the city on my own”

Mrs Schiller looked uncertain “Are you sure you’ll be all right alone in a strange city, dear?”

“Big city, Caracas,” Mr Schiller said, shooting Kyra a look from beneath his bushy white brows “Got to keep your wits about you, young woman”

Kyra smiled politely “Thank you for the advice I’ll be sure to keep it in mind”

Like all the other ships that listed Caracas as a destination, Empress of the Caribbean actually docked at a port called La Guaira It was grimy and unattractive, but no one—least of all Kyra—cared A short ride in a taxi, and she was in the center of the bustling, modern capital of Venezuela

She’d planned her day carefully, using a guidebook and the brochures she’d picked up on ship A cable-car ride up Mount Avila first for a breathtaking view of the Caribbean coastline, and then brunch at the Humboldt Hotel After that, she would head down into the city and pack ashours

By ed Caracas on foot and by taxi; she’d seen alardens and fountains of La Casona to the cobbled streets and tiled roofs of the old city near the church of La Pastora She’d evensloth in the trees at Plaza Bolivar