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The Seal's Surprise Baby
Harlequin Enterprises LimitedCopyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
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Chapter OneCongratulations! It's a girl!
Still in his field uniform, Lt. Jack Singer blinked and read the postcard again. The card was a picture of an old plantation and he recognized his sister's handwriting.
"Hey, I'm an uncle. I have a niece!"
Jack's SEAL teammate, Reese Logan, smiled. "Great! Tell Lisa and Brian I said congrats."
A girl. Jack frowned. That was all she'd written. Odd for shutterbug Lisa not to send pictures. Odder still that his sister hadn't even told him she was pregnant. Not that she could have reached him by any other means than this post-office box. He'd been gone fifteen months on special operations, and no contact with the world beyond his commander and his team had been allowed. It was the toughest part of being a SEAL. Cutting ties, or letting them blur badly enough that people often forgot about you.
Melanie Patterson obviously had. He flipped through the mail, not finding what he'd hoped. A letter. A message that the woman he'd spent a mind-blowing night with after his sister's wedding hadn't really dismissed him from her life. Closing his mailbox and pocketing the key, Jack strode to the command center, tapping the postcard against his thigh. He had thirty days' R and R coming and knew exactly where he'd spend it.He'd take the time to see his sister, his new niece - and maybe find Melanie and ask why the hell she'd cut him out of her life with the precision of a surgeon.
The reality hit him that maybe she'd forgotten about him.
Bad news, when all he could remember about his sister's wedding was Melanie. She'd been the maid of honor, Lisa's best friend and three years older. And the kind of woman who made men damned glad they were men.
Jack headed for the phones and dialed Lisa's number, realizing he should be more excited about his new niece than getting the chance to grill his sister about Melanie Patterson. That was a signal, Jack thought, he should be glad the woman didn't expect anything from him. But he wasn't.
When he'd managed to get near a ship-to-shore phone months ago and had clearance to call, he'd discovered Melanie's phone was disconnected. It was as if she didn't exist anymore. He'd phoned his sister and asked, but Lisa'd said she hadn't seen or heard from Melanie in months. He was worried and irritated at the same time.
Why wouldn't she speak to him? They were good together, in and out of bed, and Jack, sifting through junk mail, replayed that night in his mind for the millionth time. The memory of making love with Melanie was enough to drive him crazy, just as she had that night.
"No mail from her?" Jack shook his head, listening to the ringing on the other end of the line as the SEAL team members stripped off their gear and turned the most expensive components into the requisition officer.
"Give up, pal. I got the message, even if you didn't."
Jack's gaze shifted to Reese. "SEALs don't give up."
"They fight the battles they can win, and the woman has made her feelings damn clear."
Jack shook his head, wondering why his sister's answering machine wasn't turned on. "Melanie Patterson is worth going after for a straight answer."
Reese smirked. "Grab a life vest, Lieutenant, because your ship's already sinking."
Jack scowled, more at himself than at his friend's words. He'd never really thought of himself as that far gone. Sure, he'd thought about Melanie a lot and wanted to hook up with her now that he was stateside again. Yet there was more to it. They'd connected in more ways than in bed, and he wanted to see her again to find out if that connection was reality or just the memory laced in fantasy.
* * *
Fifteen months earlier
The wedding was over. In his late father's place, Jack had walked his little sister down the aisle, given her to the man she loved and, as of a few minutes ago, put them both into a limo and sent them off to start their life together. His mom was off with her friends. Now he could focus on the object of his torment for the past two weeks.
The maid of honor, Melanie Patterson. Just being near her was enough to make his mind fog. He didn't want to think about what she did to the rest of him. He'd been fighting it for more than 336 hours. Since he'd first laid eyes on his sister's best friend.
He'd suffered through about forty snags in what he considered a well-thought-out plan for his sister's wedding, yet through it all there was Melanie. Calming Lisa, running errands and running Jack ragged.
Leggy, opinionated and so damn sexy he thought he'd burn up with his need to touch her.
When he wasn't fixing a problem that threatened to ruin his little sister's big day, he was with Melanie, talking to her long into the night, sailing on the river with her when they could grab a moment from the chaos of the wedding. When she wasn't near, he was thinking about her, waiting till he could get the sassy redhead someplace private and dark. And find out if she tasted as good as she looked. He'd bet a month's pay she did.
He wasn't alone in this. He knew that for certain, or he'd have mentally shut down his libido and kept far away from her. They were subtle, the hints coming from her, and caught him dead in the chest. They made him want her even more.
As the limo rolled away from the officers' club, he waved to his sister and looked at Melanie. She was holding the hem of her gown, bending down to pick up a ribbon-tied pouch of birdseed. The officers' club wouldn't let them throw rice, and Melanie had convinced them that birdseed was environmentally safe. She only wanted the tradition for Lisa, she'd said. No bride should leave without the wish of prosperity from those who loved her.
And no man should have to stand here, look at a woman like that - and behave. "Melanie?"
She looked up, smiled, then straightened. "Hey, Lieutenant. Did I tell you how very dashing you look in that white uniform?"
"You can start now."
"A Navy SEAL with an ego," she teased. "How rare."
He held out his hand for hers. She dropped the pouch of birdseed into it. He glanced down, then stuffed it into his pocket.
"No, I'll have the bills to remind me of this."
She laughed and said, "So, the cynic emerges. I knew you weren't all patience and knightly duty."
Around them, the caterers began cleaning up. The band still played one last song, and while the guests departed, Jack pulled Melanie into his arms and onto the dance floor.
"You looked great this morning."
"As opposed to right now?"
He smiled. She kept him on his toes, he'd give her that, and found himself wanting to give her a hell of a lot more. "The belle of the ball."
Excerpted from The Seal's Surprise Baby by Fetzer Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.