Mommy Midwife (Harlequin Intrigue Series #1368)

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Staying several moves ahead has kept Troy Weathers alive in the world's most explosive hot spots. So when this marine learns that Olivia Laughton is being stalked, he immediately takes her and their unborn child on the run. His instincts tell him it will require more than skill to keep them safe—and to prove just how much he wants to stay in their lives.

Olivia has no problem trusting Troy to keep her safe, or following his orders. It's believing their one night together was ...

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Mommy Midwife (Harlequin Intrigue Series #1368)

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Overview

Staying several moves ahead has kept Troy Weathers alive in the world's most explosive hot spots. So when this marine learns that Olivia Laughton is being stalked, he immediately takes her and their unborn child on the run. His instincts tell him it will require more than skill to keep them safe—and to prove just how much he wants to stay in their lives.

Olivia has no problem trusting Troy to keep her safe, or following his orders. It's believing their one night together was more than just a passionate fling that seems riskiest of all. Still, with time running out and an unsuspected enemy closing in, Olivia knows Troy is her best chance at survival…and their baby's only shot at a promising future.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373696352
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 8/7/2012
  • Series: Harlequin Intrigue Series , #1368
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 4.12 (w) x 6.46 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Today was a first for Olivia. Triplets, she'd delivered triplets! She rubbed her hand over the swell of her own hugely pregnant belly, glad that there was only one bun in this oven. Three were way too many to handle as a single mom. Her one baby—a boy—was the perfect number, just perfect. Nearly every aspect of her pregnancy was perfect.

After a last peek at the three healthy baby girls in the hospital nursery, she headed down the corridor toward the front exit of St. Agnes Hospital in Summit County. Tired but happy, she stepped outside and inhaled a breath of fresh mountain air.

The last glow of sunset was fading from the August skies, leaving a faint gold outline along the hogback ridge opposite the hospital complex. The summer night was quiet and warm enough that she didn't really need the cardigan she'd thrown on over her purple scrubs. She set her backpack on the pavement beside a stone bench, stretched her arms over her head and yawned.

It had been a twelve-hour labor with many anxious moments. At one point, Olivia had considered calling for a C-section, but the mom had insisted that she'd get a second wind. And she'd been correct. When the time had come to push, the babies had arrived without complications, other than the juggling act required to handle three newborns at the same time.

Before crossing the parking lot to her SUV, Olivia sat on the bench to check the phone messages that had accumulated on her cell. The first had come at sixteen minutes past four o'clock.

"Hey, pretty lady." It was Troy. "I'm in Denver, and I want to get together. Call me back."

Eight and a half months ago, she'd needed him desperately. Now…not so much. She patted her belly and deleted his message.

Erasing the man himself wasn't so easy. The next phone message at precisely five o'clock was also from him. "Don't think you'll get rid of me by not calling back. If necessary, I'll use military intelligence resources to triangulate your phone signal, pinpoint your exact location and find you."

"Like a stalker," she muttered as she pressed Delete.

His third message came only fifteen minutes after the second. And it was brief. "Marry me, Olivia."

"No way," she said to the phone. What did it take to get through to this man? This had to be the twentieth time that he'd proposed.

When she was four months pregnant, he'd been back in Denver, and she'd told him the news. He had the right to know that he'd fathered a child and that it was her intention to keep the baby and raise it on her own. At age thirty, her biological clock had been clanging like a fire siren. She wanted this baby with all her heart, and she'd made it crystal clear to Troy that she would not require child support and would allow him all the visitation rights he wanted.

His response had been to drop to one knee and propose. She should have known he'd take responsibility. The man was a career marine, and he was all about honor and duty.

Short-sighted was what she called that attitude. Her grandma always said, "Marry in haste and regret it at leisure." Olivia had thanked Troy for being considerate, but she'd told him no, absolutely not, no.

Her refusal didn't stop him from proposing again. And again. And again. Every time she saw him or heard from him, he popped the question. He'd sent a dozen roses on her birthday—a date she hadn't told him but he'd somehow figured out. In the flowers was a card that said, Marry me, Olivia.

Then he'd started sending baby gifts. A tiny Yankees baseball cap, a hand-crocheted blanket, a teddy bear and a three-wheel jogging stroller that was perfect for the mountains. If they'd been in love, she would have been touched. But they weren't.

She hit the delete button.

The last message from Troy said, "I'm guessing that you're busy, probably delivering somebody else's baby. See you soon."

That sounded like he was giving up. Though she should have been glad to avoid another awkward encounter, she felt a twinge of disappointment. Even if she wasn't going to marry the man, she had to admit that his attention made her feel special.

The final message on her cell was from her mother. "Your father and I just arrived at your sister's house in Denver, and we're exhausted. The flight from Cairo took forever, and then we had a four-hour briefing in D.C., which was dreadfully boring. We're very much looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. Call in the morning, dear."

Olivia groaned. Her globe-hopping diplomat parents had probably rearranged the schedules of kings, sheiks and ambassadors to be here for the birth of their first grandchild. This was a grand event, and they had certain expectations, ranging from the name of the baby to their insistence that she check into a hospital to give birth—a demand that was totally insulting. Olivia was a midwife, after all. An expert when it came to delivering babies. Hadn't she just handled the birth of triplets? Still, her mom claimed to know better.

She tucked her phone into her oversize purse and rose from the bench. As she stepped off the curb, she caught a glimpse of movement from the corner of her eye. And she heard a sound—a mechanical, clicking noise. A gun being cocked?

Startled, she turned her head and peered into the scraggly stand of pine trees beyond the parking lot lights. No one was there. The lot was deserted. Listening hard, she told herself that she'd imagined the noise. It was only the snap of a twig, nothing to be afraid of.

A group of nurses emerged from the front door of the hospital complex. One of them waved to her and shouted congratulations on the triplets. She waved back as she hurried across the pavement and dived behind the wheel of her SUV.

She locked the doors and sat for a moment, catching her breath. Though she hadn't actually seen anyone, she still had the sense of being watched. This wasn't the first time. For the past several days, she'd been on edge. Was paranoia a side effect of raging hormones?

After a struggle with the seat belt, she started her SUV and drove out of the lot. Maybe she was nervous because she felt vulnerable in her pregnant body. If attacked, how would she defend herself? She couldn't break into a sprint. Nor could she throw a karate chop. A highflying kick was out of the question. The only way she could fight back was to sit on her attacker and crush him to death with her massive belly.

The headlights of her SUV cut through the thick forest on the way to her house. Nobody is after me. Why would they be? She wasn't a woman of mystery. Her life was an open book—a fairly dull book, the kind you read to put yourself to sleep. Nothing terrible is going to happen. Her overactive imagination was simply a reflection of her fears about having this baby. Unnecessary fears. She had everything under control.

The couple with the triplets had been the last clients she intended to see for a while. She'd arranged with another midwife to handle her practice for the next three months. After that, Olivia would ease back into a regular schedule. Handling a newborn and working wouldn't be easy, but she was better prepared than most new mothers and had great connections for child care.

She'd almost talked herself into a state of calm when she pulled into the wide gravel driveway outside her detached garage. On the other side of her withered attempt at an herb garden was her two-bedroom, ranch-style cabin. Before she turned off the engine, she noticed that the light in her bedroom was on. Had she forgotten to turn it off this morning? It didn't seem likely. When she'd left the house this morning, it was already daylight. Had she remembered to lock the doors? Was somebody inside, waiting for her?

Her fingers tensed on the steering wheel as she considered driving away and getting help. She'd look like a fool if there was nothing wrong, but it was better to be ridiculous than to take risks.

A black SUV drove up beside her and parked. She didn't recognize the vehicle. Her first impulse was to throw her car into Reverse and zoom away, but she didn't have time. The instant the SUV parked, a man got out—a tall man with neat-trimmed black hair and a square jaw. It was Troy.

He strolled up to her driver's side window, and she lowered it. She was glad to see him. If there was an intruder in her house, she could do worse than having a marine to defend her.

"The light in my bedroom window," she said. "I'm sure I didn't leave it on this morning."

"Stay in the car." His easygoing grin disappeared. "If there's trouble, I want you to drive away fast. Call 911."

She didn't like being chased away from her own house, but she nodded. "What are you going to do?"

"Take care of the situation."

"Wait." She detached the house key from her key chain and handed it to him. "You need this to get inside."

"Not really."

"Please don't kick my door down."

He pocketed the key, pushed aside his tan windbreaker and drew an automatic weapon from a belt holster. His approach to the house was quick and stealthy, keeping to the shadows. Why was he carrying a gun?

Approaching the cabin, Troy forgot about pleading his case for marriage to Olivia and went into warrior mode. After fourteen years in special ops and military intelligence, he was always on high alert. The world was full of threats. His job was to neutralize the danger.

First, he needed to clear the perimeter around her house. Being careful not to walk in front of windows and present himself as a target, he held his weapon at the ready as he circled the rectangular log cabin with the shake shingle roof.

He'd been to this house only once before, and that was a brief visit. He knew that Olivia had zero security. Any of the windows could be easily opened, and the door locks could be picked by a third-grader with a paper clip.

When he was satisfied that no one was lurking outside the house, he prepared to enter. This was the tricky part. If the intruders waited inside for an ambush, they'd have weapons trained on the door. Troy would have preferred going through a window but the casements were chest-high and climbing through would require both hands. Remembering her wish that he not destroy her property, he used the key, shoved the front door open and stepped back, using the solid log wall as a shield.

No gunfire. No sound from within. He rushed the entrance and went through the house, room by room, closet by closet, turning on lights as he went. The house was all clear. As far as he could tell, she hadn't been robbed.

On his prior visit, he hadn't made it as far as the bedroom, and he took a moment to look around. The furniture was traditional but not plain—a reflection of Olivia, who was a mix of sweet homespun and aggressive independence. He ran his fingertips across the front of a wardrobe that was painted with vines and purple columbines. The lamp on her bedside table had shiny crystals dangling from the shade.

If intruders had turned that lamp on, they would have been here after dark. Not that long ago. He hoped there hadn't been a break-in. More likely, this was a simple case of Olivia leaving the light on and forgetting that she'd done so. Still, he knew better than to dismiss a threat without thoroughly checking it out.

The second bedroom was painted a soft blue, not unlike the color of her eyes. It was the nursery, the room where his baby boy would sleep. Would their son have her eyes? Troy swallowed the lump in his throat that came whenever he thought of the baby. Never in his life had he been the least bit sentimental, and he'd given considerable thought to why he was touched by the idea of having a family.

His age had something to do with these feelings. On his last birthday, Troy turned thirty-six. In most professions, he'd still be considered young, but that wasn't true for special ops. His vision wasn't as sharp as it should be for a sniper. His reflexes had slowed by a few milliseconds, enough that it made a difference. He wasn't at his physical peak, and he realized that it was time for him to step back and take a more supervisory role. Becoming a father and having a family seemed like the natural next step in his life.

He liked the simple, clean furnishings in the nursery: a dark oak crib, matching changing table and rocking chair. Seated in the rocker was the teddy bear he'd sent—fuzzy and brown and dressed in camo fatigues. He wanted to see his son holding the bear, wanted to show him how to play catch and to take him fishing. He wanted to be a real part of his child's life. Somehow, he had to convince Olivia.

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