Life handed Michael Lawrence a cruel legacy,

but in Erika St. James he finds redemption...


Available at:



Colorado Romance Award of Excellence (Finalist)

Heart of the West Award (Honorable Mention)

Best Multicultural - Romancing The Web Readers


Legacy is the story of Michael Lawrence, a traumatized attorney who has turned his back on the law and escaped to a solitary life in the Maryland mountains. Discovering he is heir to a fortune, he must return to the city and work with Erika St. James, the beautiful new president of a multinational corporation. While his thoughts of her stray from the boardroom to the bedroom, someone else has plans to make him pay for past deeds. And Erika is the pawn he’ll use to force Michael into the open.


Excerpt from Legacy


Shirley Hailstock


Michael woke with a start. It wasn't the dream this time— but the crate against his back had fallen away. He lay on the small wharf next to the rowboat. The bobbing had relaxed him and he'd fallen into a light sleep. Pulling the crate back into place, he repositioned himself. The August sun warmed his face, but fall came early in the mountains and winter's snow would soon follow it. Michael liked winter. He liked the fresh¬ness in the air, even when he'd lived in the city. Winter days were fresh, biting sometimes, but always clear enough to get his mental juices flowing. Maybe this winter he'd finally get rid of Abby's image.

Looking up, he saw birds, in the standard V formation, flying southward in the sky. Trees swayed in the light breeze. It was quiet, relaxing. Yet he felt disturbed. He'd dreamed of Abby last night, and since then hadn't been able to shake the helpless feeling that he should have done some¬thing. Over and over he'd replayed that dream in his head. He couldn't have done anything, didn't have time to react before everything was over. Yet she haunted him from time to time. Just when he thought she was going away, she'd show up again.

A movement from the side caught Michael’s eye. He saw her. For a millisecond he thought Abby had stepped out of his dream, but watching her come forward he realized she was just an¬other lost tourist—tourist or weekend camper coming up to the mountains for the weekend who couldn't find the campgrounds. Why did they think camping meant going to a park and plugging in all the amenities they had at home?

She came toward him, one hand raised against the sun. She wore pants, not jeans like most of the tourists but slacks like women wore to offices, and shoes, not tennis sneakers. Her blouse was white, long-sleeved, and soft. The breeze pressed it against her breasts. Her gait was confident and purposeful. Despite her shoes, she didn't tiptoe over the stones that defined the path to the jetty where Michael had a small rowboat. Some¬thing stirred inside him. For the first time in a long while he felt the beginnings of arousal. Michael gauged her gait. She walked as if she knew where she was going. She reminded him of a fast car, dark and sleek, with underlying power. He'd had a car like that once.

She had to be from his office. Although he'd never set eyes on her before, somehow he recognized that corporate control, that I-can-do-the-impossible attitude.

Stopping in front of him, she studied the mountains in the distance as if she were assessing the place, looking it over with thoughts of buying it. It wasn't for sale.

"Are you Michael Lawrence?" She asked the question with¬out looking at him.

He eyed her, not moving from his position. She had long legs and short hair. If he stood up she'd probably come to his shoulder. He was six foot two. That made her tall for a woman. Her skin was flawlessly smooth and as richly brown as a thor¬oughbred's coat. No one had come looking for him in the year he'd been here. Except for the last week, when a car had come three times to deliver telegrams he hadn't bothered to open, he'd seen only lost tourists. Now this woman was here spe¬cifically for him.

"Who are you?" he asked. His voice came out gruff. He didn't want to be found. He wanted to be left alone.

"I'm Erika St. James."

The name meant nothing to him. Aristocratic as it sounded, she hadn't said it as if it should be recognizable to him. "Do I know you?"

"No." She shook her head. Wispy curls were caught and kissed by the wind. Michael frowned at the thought of how that hair would feel. "I sent you three telegrams about your grandfather."

Michael didn't move, but he eyed her closely. So she'd sent the telegrams. "You've got the wrong guy. I haven't got a grandfather."

"You're Michael Lawrence?"

He nodded.

"Carlton Lipton-Graves told me you were his grandson."

"Not to my knowledge." He shrugged. The name meant nothing to him. Both his sets of grandparents were dead. He'd never known any of them. He squinted. What was she doing here? She knew his name. Why did she think this Carlton was related to him?

Her eyes captured his attention. They were brown, huge, and fringed by dark lashes. He wanted to keep looking into them, but forced himself to look away.

"You didn't read the telegrams?" she asked.

"I have no use for telegrams, newspapers, TV, telephones, or fax machines, for that matter. Whatever you've come here for, I'm sorry it was a wasted trip. Good day, Ms. St. James."

He went back to his position against the crate, closing his eyes, dismissing her. She didn't leave. He would have heard her footsteps on the boardwalk. What was she waiting for? He opened his eyes. She was standing in the same position, her hands on her hips, her breasts rising and falling with controlled breathing. From his position on the wooden wharf his gaze was drawn to her.

"Is there something else you have to say?"

"Yes. . .no," she corrected.

"Then have a nice trip back to the city."

She turned away, then stopped. Michael could see her hands curl into tight balls. Every line of her body was stiff as she stood still. A moment later she looked back at him. He thought she was about to say something, but changed her mind. She turned again, starting up the slight incline that led back to his cabin and eventually to the road. Michael watched the sway of her hips as she moved away from him. It had been a long time, he thought since he'd wanted a woman, but God, he could want her. Closing his eyes, he shifted his body to relieve some of the tightness in his loins and went back to himself.

He should have asked how she knew his name, and why she thought his grandfather was still alive, but he hadn't. He didn't want to. He didn't want to talk to anyone. Since he'd come here he wanted only solitude, and up to now he'd had it. When the telegrams arrived he'd thought they were from his office or his mother, or Malick, his old friend. Only they knew where he'd gone when he left the city. He'd dropped the telegrams in the drawer with the unopened letters he'd received shortly after coming here. He wasn't going back then, and he wasn't going back now. No telegram would get him off this mountain. And no long-legged temptress with teasing hair and a mouth made for kissing could do it either.

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