Look what the stork brou.., p.1

Look What the Stork Brought (Man of the Month), page 1

 

Look What the Stork Brought (Man of the Month)
 


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font   Night Mode Off   Night Mode

Look What the Stork Brought (Man of the Month)


  “Honey, Wake Up And Feed The Baby” Joe Said.

  Letter to Reader

  Title Page

  Books by Dixie Browning

  About the Author

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Epilogue

  Copyright

  “Honey, Wake Up And Feed The Baby” Joe Said.

  It struck him that for a single man who intended to stay that way, he was beginning to sound dangerously domestic. Downright paternal, in fact.

  And then he heard something that slammed him in the belly like a fist.

  Sophie whimpered in her sleep, and Joe groaned. He touched her lightly on the arm, just enough to rouse her.

  In the second before she awakened, she was totally vulnerable.

  In that moment, Joe knew that he could no more walk out and leave her—leave her and her baby—than he could fly to the moon. It was even worse admitting he could be turned on by a woman who had just given birth to another man’s baby. Either he was totally depraved, or the human instinct for survival and reproduction was a hell of a lot stronger than he’d suspected.

  Dear Reader,

  Happy Holidays to all of you from the staff of Silhouette Desire! Our celebration of Desire’s fifteenth anniversary continues, and to kick off this holiday season, we have a wonderful new book from Dixie Browning called Look What the Stork Brought. Dixie, who is truly a Desire star, has written over sixty titles for Silhouette.

  Next up, The Surprise Christmas Bride by Maureen Child. If you like stories chock-full of love and laughter, this is the book for you. And Anne Eames continues her MONTANA MALONES mimseries with The Best Little Joeville Christmas.

  The month is completed with more Christmas treats:

  A Husband in Her Stocking by Christine Pacheco;

  I Married a Prince by Kathryn Jensen and Santa Cowboy by Barbara McMahon.

  I hope you all enjoy your holidays, and hope that Silhouette Desire will add to the warmth of the season. So enjoy the very best in romance from Desire!

  Senior Editor

  Please address questions and book requests to:

  Silhouette Reader Service

  U.S.: 3010 Walden Ave., P.O. Box 1325, Buffalo, NY 14269

  Canadian: P.O. Box 609. Fort Ene, Ont. L2A 5X3

  DIXIE BROWNING

  LOOK WHAT THE STORK BROUGHT

  Books by Dixie Browning

  Silhouette Desire

  Shadow of Yesterday #68

  Image of Love #91

  The Hawk and the Honey #111

  late Rising Moon #121

  Stormwatch #169

  The Tender Barbarian #188

  Matchmaker’s Moon #212

  A Bird in the Hand #234

  In the Palm of Her Hand #264

  A Winter Woman #324

  There Once Was a Lover #337

  Fate Takes a Holiday #403

  Along Came Jones #427

  Thin Ice #474

  Beginner’s Luck #517

  Ships in the Night #541

  Twice in a Blue Moon #588

  Just Say Yes #637

  Not a Marrying Man #678

  Gus and the Nice Lady #691

  Best Man for the Job #720

  Hazards of the Heart #780

  Kane’s Way #801

  †Keegan’s Hunt #820

  †Lucy and the Stone #853

  †Two Hearts, Slightly Used #890

  ‡Alex and the Angel #949

  ‡The Beauty, the Beast and the Baby #985

  *The Baby Notion #1011

  ‡Stryker’s Wife #1033

  Look What the Stork Brought #1111

  † Outer Banks

  ‡Tall, Dark and Handsome

  *Daddy Knows Last

  Silhouette Special Edition

  Finders Keepers #50

  Reach Out To Cherish #110

  Just Deserts #181

  Time and Tide #205

  By Any Other Name #228

  The Security Man #314

  Belonging #414

  Silhouette Romance

  Unreasonable Summer #12

  Tumbled Wall #38

  Chance Tomorrow #53

  Wren of Paradise #73

  East of Today #93

  Winter Blossom #113

  Renegade Player #142

  Island on the Hill #164

  Logic of the Heart #172

  Loving Rescue #191

  A Secret Valentine #203

  Practical Dreamer #221

  Viable Heart #275

  Journey to Quiet Waters #292

  The Love Thing #305

  First Things Lost #323

  Something for Herself #381

  Reluctant Dreamer #460

  A Matter of Timing #527

  The Homing Instrnct #747

  Silhouette Books

  Silhouette Christmas Stones 1987

  “Henry the Ninth”

  Sping Fancy 1994

  “Grace and the Law”

  Yours Truly

  Single Female (Reluctantly) Seeks...

  DIXIE BROWNING

  celebrated her sixtieth book for Silhouette with the publication of Stryker’s Wife in 1996. She has also written a number of historical romances with her sister under the name Bronwyn Williams. A charter member of Romance Writers of America and a member of Novelists, Inc., Browning has won numerous awards for her work. She divides her time between Winston-Salem and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

  One

  He was closing in. So close he could almost smell blood. Lifting one hand from the steering wheel, Joe Dana pinched the place between his eyes where it throbbed. It was just past ten on a steamy July morning, and he’d pulled over onto the side of the road. Briefly, he’d considered checking into a hotel, catching a shower and a few hours’ sleep first, but he was too close. After going flat out for the past five weeks—the last twenty-two hours of it without sleep—he wanted only to wind things up and go home.

  Wherever home was. At the moment, it was a storage unit in Fort Worth. That and some unfinished plans.

  For the time being, he’d seen enough sheriffs and small-town cops to last him a while. As for women hanging all over him, soaking his shirt with their tears, he could do without those, too.

  He yawned again, inhaling the stale aroma of his own sweat and too many fast-food containers. Once this gig was finished, he was going to the best hotel in town to soak his carcass in hot water for a few hours, send his boots out to be polished, his laundry out to be finished, order in a slab of beef, cooked just the way he liked it, with a basket of fries, a gallon of milk and half-a-gallon of ice cream....

  And then he was going to sleep for a week.

  The slip of paper with instructions to the Bayard woman’s house said turn right off Highway 158 onto the first dirt road past Frenchman’s Creek; pass a mobile home on the left, a log tobacco barn on the right, go a mile farther and look for a mailbox mounted on a busted hay-rake.

  “Can’t miss it,” the deputy had said. “Last place on the road. County don’t gravel past there. She wanted for something? Heard she worked in a bank in town till she moved to Davie County a few months back. I went and got a raccoon out of her attic, first week she moved in. Seemed like a real nice woman, but these days you never know, do you?”

  No, thought Joe, you never know. He didn’t know if she was the brains of the
organization—if there even was an organization, instead of just a one-man scam—or one more in a long line of tearful victims.

  He did know that the eighteenth-century jade vase she’d described in The Antique and Artifact Trader was a part of the collection he’d been tracking all the way from Dallas. He’d picked up the trail in Amarillo, lost it in Guymon, found it again in Tulsa and chased it all the way to North Carolina. Along the way, he’d checked out every pawn shop, every law enforcement office and heard more sob stories than any broken-down ex-cop needed to hear when he was officially retired.

  He had a hunch about this one, though. A strong feeling that he was finally closing in.

  Then again, the feeling could be just the result of too many chili dogs. As for his headache, that was a result of too many hours behind the wheel. His knee was killing him—also the result of driving too long without a break.

  On the other hand, it was usually at a time like this, when he was scraping the bottom of the barrel, that his luck suddenly took a turn for the better. Hell, he’d been flat on his back in a hospital bed when he’d thought of the one thing they’d overlooked in the Drayton case. Once he was back on his feet again, he’d been able to wrap things up. All three brothers were indicted and behind bars, and he’d earned himself another commendation to go with his early retirement papers.

  Joe yawned again, then pulled onto the highway and turned right on the graveled state road. A mile or so farther, he turned off onto a rutted, weed-cluttered driveway. The house looked like a few million other old farmhouses. Four rooms up, four down, with a one-story shoot off the back. This one had flowers. Vine-covered trellises at each end of the porch and blooming beds underneath the windows. Crook or not, the lady had a way with plants.

  He pulled up in front, set the parking brake and eased himself out of the cab, moving stiffly until he worked out a few kinks. Before he even reached the front door he had a feeling the house was empty, but he knocked anyway, because it was the polite thing to do.

  Knocked twice and waited. And then his instincts kicked in. It was called situation awareness, and his was usually right on target when it came to sensing if a house was really empty or if somebody was in there hiding, ready to blow his head off.

  This one was empty. He’d bet his best boots on it. Quietly he eased down off the porch and headed around back. With or without a badge, he wasn’t into breaking and entering, but if the back door just happened to be open...

  And then he saw her and stopped dead in his tracks, staring over the chicken-wire fence. His first thought was that she was big. His second, that she was a genuine blond. No dark roots. His third, that she was in trouble, which was an indication of just how tired he was. Normally in a situation like this, he’d have taken her vitals by now, and might even be administering mouth-to-mouth.

  She was lying flat on the ground—or as flat as possible under the circumstances—in some kind of a garden. Rows of growing stuff, mostly vegetables. Her knees were bent, there was a big floppy hat with a sunflower on the brim resting on one of them, and a pile of weeds beside her left elbow. Her face looked flushed to him, like she was either feverish or she’d been out in the sun too long.

  Heatstroke? Possibly. The temperature was hovering around the century mark, with the humidity not far behind.

  Her eyes were closed. Both her hands were resting on top of a belly so big it hiked her skirt halfway up her thighs.

  As for the thighs, they were long, firm and tanned. Just for the record.

  Long years of training kicked in before he could actually start drooling. Moving swiftly to her side, he let himself inside the fence, mentally skimming files of all the things that could go wrong with a woman who looked to be about twelve months pregnant. He was halfway down on his good knee, reaching for her pulse when she opened her eyes and smiled up at him.

  It was the smile that froze him in a muscle-killing crouch. It was slow, sleepy and nowhere near as wary as it should have been, under the circumstances. “Do I know you?” she murmured.

  “Are you all right?” He settled on his knees, ignoring the stiffness and the hard, rocky ground. The Ch’ien Lung vase had waited this long—it could wait a few minutes more.

  “I’m not real sure.” Her voice was like her smile, sort of slow and sleepy. And sweet.

  “You’re, ah...lying down?” In other words, why the devil are you lying down in the middle of the yard, in the middle of the morning?

  “My back hurt. I was weeding, but it’s so hot. Who are you? If you’re selling something, I’m afraid I can’t buy. If you’ve come about my car, the garage already called. I’ll pick it up Monday, if that’s all right.”

  “I’m not selling, and I don’t know anything about your car. If you’re Ms. Sophie Bayard, I’d like to—”

  “Help me up, will you? I’m clumsy as an ox these days but if you can get me on my feet, I’ll go inside and pour us some iced tea. Lawsy, it’s hot, isn’t it? What did you say your name was?”

  “I didn’t, but it’s Joe Dana. Ma’am, I’d like to—”

  She grabbed the sunflower hat with one hand and held the other one up for him to take. Both hands were dirty. And ringless. Which didn’t necessarily mean anything. “Don’t hurt yourself, I weigh a ton,” she warned.

  She was a big girl, all right. Big boned. He figured her for about five foot eight, a hundred-fifty, maybe one fifty-five, at the moment. She was carrying a lot of excess cargo. That denim tent she was wearing looked about ready to give up the ghost.

  Joe glanced at the prominent breasts resting on her even more prominent belly and quickly looked away. Funny thing, he’d never before noticed just how female a pregnant woman looked.

  He got her up off the ground with only a few minor twinges in his bad knee. Her skin had a nice smell. She was hot, dusty, and she’d been working in onions, but underneath all that she had a nice, soapy, womanly, herbal smell. Joe was a noticing man. Too many times his life had depended on just such subtle details.

  For one brief moment she leaned against him, and he let himself be leaned on, but then he steadied her and stepped back. It didn’t pay to get too friendly with the enemy. It only got in the way of what he had to do, which no longer seemed as simple as it had back when he’d first picked up the lead.

  “All right now? Not dizzy or anything, are you?”

  “No, I’m just fine except for my back. It—” She reached back and rubbed down low, and then a startled look came over her face. Joe was watching her closely for any sign of—well, for any sign of anything. Guilt. Shame. Fear. She sure as hell wasn’t going to try to run from him, not in her condition.

  His eyes narrowed. “What is it?”

  “Warm. Wet. Oh, my mercy, something’s happened.” Her eyes got as round as marbles, and Joe noticed their color for the first time. They were gray with a hint of green. Like Spanish moss after a rain.

  “You got a cramp? Where? Your leg? Your back?” Not your belly. Please, lady, not your belly. Don’t go into labor on me now...this I don’t need!

  “I’ve wet my pants, and oh—! It’s still happening!”

  He uttered a profanity under his breath. “Your water just broke. When are you due?”

  “My water?”

  “Yeah, your water. Don’t you know anything?”

  “If you mean about having babies, I’ve never actually had one before, but I went to a few classes at the Y. And I’ve read all this stuff—you know, about what to expect and all, but—oh, lawsy, this is so embarrassing!”

  “Tell me about it,” Joe muttered, and calmly went into action. “First thing we’re going to do is we’re going to get you inside.”

  She moaned. He didn’t think she was actually hurting, just scared, but then, he’d never had a baby. How would he know?

  “You can walk, can’t you? I can carry you if you think you’ll have trouble with the steps, but walking’s supposed to be good for a woman at a time like this.”

  He hoped it
was. If he had to carry her, they might both come to grief right here between the onions and the butter beans. Joe was a big man—six-two, a hundred eighty-seven. But he’d been horse-busted, gunshot and otherwise mistreated a few too many times in his thirty-eight-and-a-half years. No sense in pushing his luck.

  With his arm to steady her, she made it just fine. She had nice, delicate features, but that jaw of hers told a different story. He might not be able to wind things up here quite as easily as he’d hoped.

  “I want to take a real quick shower before I go to the hospital. Will you stand outside the bathroom door so I can call you if I need you?”

  Joe was busy looking around, just in case she was dumb enough to keep the stuff right out in plain sight. His grandmother always had, but then, she’d had the right to show it off.

  “Are you sure you ought to do this?” he asked. First time or not, she might be one of those women who popped out babies like spitting out watermelon seeds.

  “Nothing hurts. I feel fine. In fact, I feel better than I’ve felt in ages.”

  “Euphoria.”

  “I beg your pardon?” But before he could explain that sometimes, even in the midst of a crisis, a feeling of well-being could overcome a body and make him think everything was all right when it wasn’t, she was already headed down the hall.

  “Can you do it in three minutes?” he asked, going after her.

  “Not if I shampoo my hair. Give me five.”

  “Lady, they’re not mine to give. If you get into trouble in there, I’m the one who’s going to have to bail you out, and I’ve got a bad knee, so don’t push your luck, all right?”

  She beamed at him. Positively beamed. Joe forgot all about her big, gravid belly and her dirty, green-stained, onion-scented hands. And the fact that she was trying to sell off a trinket belonging to his grandmother that was valued at eighteen grand.

 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll