Seduction by the Book
ISBN # 978-0373766734
The hurricane that imprisoned them...alone...in Nicholas Scoville's island fortress was nothing compared to the storm raging within him. Annie Riley challenged him with her healing hands and her infectious humor. But when the lights went out, Nick took what he wanted, what he needed, what Annie offered. And learned he was her first. Annie deserved far better than a lost prince.
Then he learned about the baby.
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“The island doesn’t look too terribly shabby after the hurricane,” his mother said as he pulled in to the lot beside the pool house. “The trees will take some time to grow back, but all in all it’s much better than I’d imagined. You must’ve worked round the clock to get the work done.”
He shook his head. “I’ve had lots of help. The islanders have been amazing.”
His mother smiled. “My great-great grandfather always thought so too. He said there were no better people anywhere on earth than the families he’d hired to come work and live here.”
Nick forgot from time to time that it was his mother’s family who had owned this island for generations. His father had always been such a huge presence in his life that he was shocked to remember that it was his mother who had inherited all the money from her wealthy American ancestors.
“Well, here we are,” he told her as he parked the Jeep and got out to carry her luggage. “I doubt Annie will be here to greet you. In the afternoons she can usually be found down at the lagoon, working with the dolphins.”
His mother shot him a very strange look before she shrugged her shoulder and climbed out of the Jeep. “That’s fine, dear. It will give me a chance to settle in. I’ll look forward to dining with her later.”
“Well...” Nick filled his arms with his mother’s luggage and followed her as she unlocked the door and stepped inside. “I don’t know if...”
Just as his eyes adjusted to the cool interior of the three-room pool house, Annie came flying out of the bathroom and nearly knocked into his mother.
Her eyes filled with confusion for a second, then she grinned and hugged his mother. “Oh, Mrs. Scoville. I’m so glad to see you.”
His mother gave Annie a kiss on the cheek and held her at arm’s length to study her. “It’s wonderful to see you again, my dear. I’ve been quite eager for us to have a nice chat. Would you care to join me for a cup of tea?”
“Uh, can it be later, please? I have to go back to work now.” Annie pulled out of his mother’s grasp, nodded to him and ran out the door.
He dropped his mother’s bags and dashed outside after Annie. “Wait a second,” he muttered as he caught her by the arm. “What’s so urgent that you can’t spend a few moments to talk to my mother?”
She tugged against his grip then spun around when he refused to release her arm. “Nick, please. I have to go now. I’m sorry.”
Studying her eyes, he saw they were overly bright and the remnants of tears lay caught in her lashes. “At least tell me what’s wrong. Maybe there’s something I can do.”
“You’ve already done it,” she said on a deep breath.
He stared down at her, wanting desperately to wrap her up in his arms and make whatever troubled her go away. “What have I done? Just stand still a second and talk to me. Are you sick?”
She laughed, but the sound was more like a strangled sob. “For the third time today, I’m fine, dammit.” Yanking her arm out of his grip, she flipped her loose hair back off her shoulder. “I’m not sick - - just pregnant.”
It took a second for her words to sink into his thick skull. “What? You can’t be.”
Laughing again, she swiped a hand over her face and cleared away a lone tear. “Just had the test. It’s official. I guess your doctors didn’t know what they were talking about when they said you couldn’t have a child.”
He stood there, dumbfounded, for much too long. Long enough to see the rejection and hurt fill her eyes.
“Sorry to spring it on you, Nick, but you insisted. And I really have to go now.” She turned and rushed away toward the lagoon.
Leaving him stunned - - and more than a little baffled.
Damn it all to hell.
FROM THE BOOK: SEDUCTION BY THE BOOK
By: Linda Conrad
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