Over a week later, and I still can’t believe it.

Kate Duffy, Kensington Publishing’s legendary editorial director, has died. She was only 56.

Trying to imagine the world of romance books without Kate is like trying to get used to peanut butter without jelly, or a romance novel without a happily-ever-after. Still, we’ll have to adjust to the fact that Kate will never again grace a conference with her biting wit, immense knowledge of the industry, or abiding love of books and authors.

I have many wonderful memories of Kate, who bought my romantic suspense series last year, but the last time I saw her is my favorite. I had gone to NYC and spent the morning with her at her office. After a terrific Italian lunch with her and Kristine Noble, from Kensington’s art department, it was time for me to go. Kate gave me one of her bear hugs, a kiss on the cheek, and some words of encouragement as I set out to finish the first book. Even though she had many other, bigger authors, she made me feel special, and I know I’m not the only author of hers who felt that way. I went about the rest of my day with a smile on my face.

I thought we were saying good-bye for the day. I didn’t know it was forever.

I miss you, Kate.