The Enemy's Daughter

By: Anne Marie Winston

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The coffee shop was surprisingly busy for the middle of a Wednesday afternoon.

Selene Van Gelder paused just inside the door of D&D's, an upscale coffeehouse located on a bluff above the river's edge in the historic district of Savannah, Georgia. The air conditioning felt wonderful, since the heat was still oppressive in early September. She took several deep breaths, feeling the jittery unease in her stomach increase. This was foolhardy. She shouldn't be here.

She had told herself she needed to go shopping today, but when she'd found herself standing outside the wood-and-brass doors of D&D's with their frosted window panes, it was time to admit to herself that after two months she finally couldn't resist the urge to find out more about Adam Danforth.

So this was his business. At least, partly his, she thought, recalling that he'd said his cousin and his oldest brother were his partners. Breathing deeply of the rich blend of coffee aromas, she looked curiously around the interior.

It was as elegant as she'd expected, but the atmosphere was one of warmth and invitation. Rich dark-paneled wood set off gleaming brass, and café curtains spanned the wide windows on which the Danforth & Co.'s stylized logo, intertwined D's with a lavish ampersand, appeared in gilt letters. Along one wall was an enormous fireplace, though she wondered how often they actually got to use the thing, with a climate as mild as Savannah's.

Strangely, the sight of the fireplace calmed her nerves. It reminded her of her youth growing up in European boarding schools. Roaring fires were more a necessity than a luxury during the chilly northern winters on the Continent. And though one didn't normally think of boarding school as a great place to be, for Selene school had meant comfort and security.

But you're not in Europe anymore, Selene, she reminded herself. No, she was home—if she could really call Savannah home. She supposed it was as familiar as any other place stateside, and at least she had some connection to Savannah, however tenuous it felt. She'd been born here in the heat of a summer evening. And her mother's grave was here, beneath the live oaks in one of the stately old cemeteries where the city's first families routinely were interred.

Her mother. She sighed, wishing she'd known the woman who had given her life. But Elisabetta Home Van Gelder had died mere hours after the birth of her only child, breathing just long enough to give Selene her name and bid farewell to the husband who had loved her so dearly. How different, she wondered, might her life be today had her mother lived?

Pulling herself from introspection that she knew from experience would prove painful, she crossed to the counter and ordered a tall cup of D&D's special Brazilian mocha blend to go. She looked around the room at the waiters and the staff working the sophisticated machinery, but she didn't see Adam.

A wave of disappointment swept through her, and she told herself not to be ridiculous. The co-owner of the business, particularly an entrepreneur as wealthy and successful as Adam Danforth was reported to be, would hardly be working behind the counter.

Besides, the last thing either of them needed was a public meeting that could be witnessed by someone who might identify them. Wouldn't that make a nice tidbit for the gossip columns?

It was time to go. She was half regretting the impulse that had brought her here. Hadn't she been telling herself since July that she couldn't get involved with Adam?

Not to mention that it was terribly arrogant of her to assume he would still be interested if she did look him up. After all, she hadn't heard a word from him since she'd received a lovely bouquet of roses and lilies the morning after the dinner-dance where they'd met.

As she turned with her drink in hand, she nearly bumped into a blonde in a trim navy suit behind her. With a quick sidestep, she murmured, "Sorry."

The other woman barely acknowledged her. "Honey," she was saying to her companion, a brunette who looked to be a member of the downtown business community as well, "he is the most gorgeous hunk of man I've seen in ages. Think Josh Hartnett mixed with a healthy dose of a young Tom Cruise. Except Adam's six feet tall." She sighed. "I'd like a piece of that action."

Adam? Selene's attention sharpened, even though she felt as if every person in the place suddenly knew she was eavesdropping.