A Baby Between Them (Harlequin Intrigue #1190) [NOOK Book]


From the moment Ella Baxter vanishes, Seattle cop Simon Task knows it's up to him to bring her home. Especially once he learns she's pregnant with his child. Now, charging through the danger that shadows her and reminding her of their intensely passionate shared past is all that matters. As they follow cryptic clues to learn why she is being targeted, Simon senses there are things Ella would rather not remember. Still, getting her to trust him when she can't even remember him is a challenge he's up for. Breaking...
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A Baby Between Them (Harlequin Intrigue #1190)

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From the moment Ella Baxter vanishes, Seattle cop Simon Task knows it's up to him to bring her home. Especially once he learns she's pregnant with his child. Now, charging through the danger that shadows her and reminding her of their intensely passionate shared past is all that matters. As they follow cryptic clues to learn why she is being targeted, Simon senses there are things Ella would rather not remember. Still, getting her to trust him when she can't even remember him is a challenge he's up for. Breaking the news to her that she's pregnant may not be quite as easy….
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426848438
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 2/1/2010
  • Series: Harlequin Intrigue Series , #1190
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 514,144
  • File size: 491 KB

Meet the Author

Alice can't recall a time when she didn't consider herself, one way or another, a writer. First it was a family newspaper, then journals, poetry, and short stories. She even wrote a play at age ten and semicoerced neighborhood children into acting it out for their parents (25 cents admission!). Writing was always a way of filtering life, and came as naturally as talking.

Alice spent her early adult years raising a family, mostly on a small sailboat--a feat that helped develop insights that would later come in handy as a novelist. During these years she wrote short stories, the first of which sold in 1982. This was the "beginning" she thought, not realizing it would take another year to sell story number two.

In 1990, after writing over two dozen short stories, Alice decided to try her hand at writing a novel. This was intimidating as she was mostly self-taught, but what she may have lacked in formal training, she made up for in motivation and determination.

Alice wanted to write a romance, but one with a soul, with real people taking care of each other. The book sold, as did eighteen others, primarily mysteries and romance, to a small publishing house. Writing as many as five books a year, the work was strenuous but fulfilling and provided a wealth of experience.

In 1996, in order to reach a larger audience, Alice submitted and sold to Harlequin. The book Going to the Chapel was inspired by the numerous wedding chapels she noticed while visiting Lake Tahoe, Nevada. While plotting this book, she discovered that a character involved in an interesting career he or she just hates could be humorous.

In all her books Alice strives to combine humor and heart. Being part of a great family helps this along. Her son, Joseph, serves in the United States Army; her daughter, Jennifer, is raising two children on one income. She also has the love of a good man and the complete adoration/disdain of a yellow lab and three cats. They keep her humble and find their way into many of her novels.

Alice dearly loves to receive, and faithfully responds to, reader mail.
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Read an Excerpt

A blob of color off to the left caught Simon Task's attention as he sped out of a town whose name he'd already forgotten.

He immediately pulled off the highway, the truck spraying gravel as he braked to a stop. Swiveling in his seat, he looked back. There it was, a pink-and-orange plastic lady-bug, the kind that attached to the top of an automobile antenna. What was it doing buried in a wrecking yard?

His imagination got the worst of him as he waited for a break in the traffic before making a U-turn into the parking lot. He pulled up next to the shell of a rusty van with a shattered windshield.

It had to be a coincidence. There had to be more than one of those silly ladybugs in the world.

His mission, or quest or whatever you wanted to call it, had begun twelve hours earlier when he'd driven by Ella's house at three o'clock in the morning. Since their big fight and their subsequent breakup a few days before, he'd avoided her street, but last night had been a busy one. By the time his shift had ended, he'd been tired enough to take the old shortcut. It wasn't as though she'd be awake to see him drive past.

Much to his surprise, her house had been visible the moment he'd turned the corner, blazing with lights both inside and out. He'd pulled up to the curb in front and sat there until curiosity and uneasiness forced him out of the squad car and up the path to her door.

Wouldn't it be the ultimate irony if the instincts and skills honed on the police force, a job she'd begged him over and over again to quit, now provided the very abilities she depended on to rescue her?

Or was he reading this all wrong?

Wrenching his thoughts back to the present, he caught sight of the small snow globe on the passenger seat and picked it up, twisting his wrist, sending glittery "snow" falling over an otter "floating" on a sea of blue acrylic. On the night he'd found the lights on, he'd gone looking to see if her car was in the garage. No car. Instead, there was the snow globe, all alone where the car should have been, so out of place it caught his eye.

He was here because of this damn snow globe.

But was he in the right place?

He set it back down and got out of the truck, striding toward the fence with determination etched on the lean planes of his face. With his thirty-seventh birthday well behind him, he was a man accustomed to knowing what was going on or moving heaven and earth to find out. First things first.

Rounding a stack of tires, he could finally see through the chain-link fence and what he saw almost froze him in place. The antenna supporting the ladybug mascot was attached to a silver late-model sedan, or what was left of one, the same kind of car Ella drove. The hood was buckled inward and up, all but obscuring the windshield. The passenger compartment was partly crushed, shattered headlights and sprung doors attesting to the power of the impact that had put it here in the first place.

Had the driver walked away from this accident? More to the point—had Ella walked away or was she lying in a morgue somewhere? He swallowed hard.

Make sure it's her car. Bending at the knees, he perched on his heels as he tried to decipher the bent license plate three feet away. Every letter and number he could make out matched up to Ella's.

"You interested in that car?" a deep voice asked. Simon rose to a standing position as a man popped up from behind a dented SUV, a crowbar in one big hand, two hubcaps tucked under his opposite arm. With a shrill clang, he dropped everything on the rusty hood of yet another wreck and lumbered over to the fence, giving Simon the once-over.

He was fifty or so, pasty and short of breath, a layer of sweat glistening on his brow despite the cool May day. Simon started to reach for his badge but thought better of it. Finding Ella was personal, not official. He said, "It's in pretty bad shape," bracing himself to hear the worst.

"Ain't that the truth?" the man said, producing a can of chewing tobacco. He pinched off a few leaves, tucked the wad in his cheek and added, "Can you believe the driver walked away without a scratch?"

Simon let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "Then she's okay?"

"He's okay, yeah."

Simon narrowed his eyes. "Wait a second. He?"

"The driver. Uninjured except for a scratch or two. Amazing thing. Course, his wife got bonked on the head pretty good. They had an ambulance take her to the hospital." With a wave of a thick arm, he added, "It happened just a mile or two down the road where the highway curves as it drops to the coast. Car went off an embankment and wrapped around a tree."

Okay, just a second. Since when did Ella allow someone to drive her car, and what was this talk of a husband? "Did you catch any names?"

"Sure. Carl and Eleanor Baxter."

It was on the tip of his tongue to protest that the Eleanor Baxter who owned this car wasn't married. This had to be a mistake. But he paused as he considered her nature. It wasn't inconceivable that she could keep an estranged husband a secret.

He'd actually liked that mysterious quality about her, at least at first. To Simon, coming from a large family with two sisters who never seemed to edit a word they said, Ella had seemed peaceful, composed. It was the churning oceans he'd since detected underneath her calm exterior that grew to worry him.

The wrecker's eyes narrowed. "The Baxters were tourists. How about you? You from around here?"

"No, I'm from Blue Mountain, high desert country. I'm a friend of theirs from back home. Can you tell me how to get to the hospital where Ella, Mrs. Baxter, was taken?"

"If you came from the east, you must have driven right by it. Won't do you no good to look for her there, though. She was released this morning. My wife, Terry, works over there in Housekeeping. She says everyone was surprised Mrs. Baxter left so soon."

Simon's mind was racing. "Was this woman tall with long wavy blond hair?"

"Tall, maybe. Truth is she was in the ambulance by the time I got to the scene. I got a glimpse of her, but her head was wrapped in bandages."

Simon hadn't slept in well over twenty-four hours and he'd been driving for eight. No wonder he couldn't make sense out of anything, no wonder his eyes burned in their sockets. Running a hand through his hair, he said, "Bear with me while I try to understand this. When exactly did the accident happen?"

"Three days ago," the older man said. "In the middle of the night. Every cop in the county showed up along with the fire trucks in case there was an explosion. It was a real circus."

"And the female passenger was released this morning?"

"That's right."

"Do you know if she's still in town? I mean she and her husband?"

The wrecker looked over his shoulder as though he'd suffered a sudden stab of conscience. His wife was no doubt cautioned not to gossip about the patients, but she obviously had and now the wrecker seemed to realize he was repeating her disclosures to a stranger. He spit tobacco with practiced ease, the brown glob landing a few feet away, and scratched his belly through a smudged shirt.

Simon casually took out the leather folder that held his badge. It didn't give him the right to go to the hospital and demand private information without a court order, but he flashed it just the same and the wrecker's face lit up.

"Oh, you're a cop. I get it now. What were they, bank robbers, drug dealers?"

"No, no," Simon said quickly. "I'm just a friend like I told you. I was supposed to meet up with them. I'm showing you the badge so you understand I know how to keep my mouth shut."

The wrecker appeared mildly disappointed. "Well, the answer is they ain't here anymore. Rented a car from Lester down at the Pacific 88 Station, and took off. The husband wanted to continue on their vacation over to Rocky Point."

Rocky Point—Simon had suspected as much. Actually, it had been a toss of the dice, either Otter Cove or Rocky Point, but he'd had a feeling it was the latter. He was itching now to get back in his truck and make it to the coast before dark. One way or another he'd find her. He still didn't know what was going on, just that he needed to see her with his own eyes. If she'd been playing him for a fool the last year or so, well, that was the past, they weren't together anymore anyway. But he had to know why she'd left the house all lit up and the snow globe in such an odd spot.

The wrecker, meanwhile, had continued rambling and Simon tuned back in to hear him say, "Doctors said as long as he didn't pressure his wife, it probably wouldn't hurt her, and might do her some good. They said it could go away overnight or take a few days or even weeks, just not to push her."

Once again, Simon found himself playing catch-up. "What could go away?" he asked.

"Like I said, her amnesia."

Amnesia? Ella had amnesia? Unsure how to respond to this, Simon worked at looking nonplussed as he racked his brain for a comment that made sense. The wrecker lowered his voice, leaned closer to the fence and added, "The wife heard he's not even supposed to tell her their baby lived through the crash unless she remembers and asks about it."

The shock these words engendered on Simon's face must have shown. The wrecker quickly added, "Her memory better come back pretty damn quick, you ask me."

Okay, this had to be another woman. It wasn't Ella, it couldn't be. Maybe she could have hidden a marriage, but a baby? The sudden image of her perfect nude body, of the taut skin covering her abdomen, flashed in his brain. He'd bet almost anything she'd never given birth.

Now all he had to do was figure out what had happened to Ella to separate her from her car so far from home.

The wrecker added, "My wife said the gal hasn't started showing yet, but nature will take care of that soon enough."

"She's pregnant," Simon blurted out, unable to hide the tremor in his voice.

The wrecker looked pleased with himself. "Yep."

That meant the woman in the car could be Ella.

And that meant the baby they were talking about could be his.

"It's getting cold, Eleanor. Come inside," Carl Baxter called, his voice drifting out to the outdoor balcony through the partially open sliding glass door.

Glancing into the room, Eleanor saw that he'd stretched out atop the king-size bed and was watching the news on television.

"In a minute," she said, wrapping the thin blue sweater closer about her body.

Their room was on the tenth floor and overlooked the Pacific Ocean, the distant horizon flushed with color as the sun plunged toward the sea. The thin wind might be cold, but it was still preferable to being inside the small room with her husband.

Her husband! She absently twisted the gold band on her left hand as she tried yet again to conjure up a memory of Carl that preceded waking up in the hospital. Nothing. But the truth was, it felt funny to think of Carl as her husband. He was good-looking enough, with longish blond hair and an aristocratic face, but there was absolutely nothing about him that spoke to her on any level. He was older than she was, forty-one to her twenty-eight, or so their drivers' licenses revealed. His manner toward her was one of indulgent fondness, she guessed, though it seemed as though he might be a little on the controlling side.

For instance, on the drive from the hospital she'd begged him to drive her home—wherever that might be; no place sounded familiar to her. He'd told her they were going to continue their long-planned road trip, that the doctors had suggested traveling until she regained her memory. They would go back to Blue Mountain when she remembered who she was. It didn't matter that she wanted to go now; the doctors knew best.

Who was she to argue with the doctors? Except this plan seemed backward to her. Wouldn't her own space and belongings trigger a memory or two? And what about her parents or brothers or sisters?

All dead, Carl had told her, and then he'd folded her in his arms as though comforting her, but how was she supposed to mourn people she couldn't even remember?

Her sweater wasn't warm enough for the wind and she fought her reluctance to go inside. She needed better clothes if they were going to stay on the coast. A Wind-breaker, for instance. She apparently wasn't much of a packer or maybe her suitcase had been lost in the accident.

She could remember absolutely nothing about the crash. It was as though her head was the inside of a pumpkin: mushy, stringy. The irony of being able to recall the look and smell and taste of a squash but not have a sense of self seemed absurd, and she thought more kindly of Carl. It couldn't be very pleasant to be saddled with a wife in such a befuddled state. She should be grateful to him for standing by her.

But why wouldn't he help her out a little? Why wouldn't he show her pictures or tell her stories about her past or explain what she did for a living, what she liked, what she didn't like?

The doctors. That's why. He was following their orders.

The door opened behind her. Carl stood half in, half out, the wind whipping his hair. Her own short brown locks barely stirred.

"Time to come inside," he said, standing aside to allow her to pass him.

He didn't try to touch her, and for this she was grateful. As she heard the door slide closed behind her, she paused in front of the TV. An announcer was offering details of a homicide, the cameras scanning a weeded lot as a gurney topped with a body bag was wheeled toward a waiting ambulance.

The picture disappeared as Carl clicked the remote. "I was watching that," she said as she turned to face him.

"It happened a long way from here, Eleanor."


"I don't want you to watch upsetting, unpleasant things."

She took a deep breath. Was the man always this calculating or had her new vulnerable state aroused his protective instincts? "How long are we staying here?"

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