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The Secret Father
By Anna Adams
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
Copyright © 2003
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Six Years Ago
Olivia Kendall had three problems. She was pregnant, she couldn't find her baby's father, and the moment her own father
- James Kendall of Kendall Press - found out, he was bound to fire her to avoid the shame of her unwed motherhood.
Six months out of Columbia's School of Journalism, she'd spent the summer and fall learning Kendall Press from the mail
room up. She couldn't afford to get fired. Even if she found Lieutenant Zach Calvert, she'd need a salary to support
her unborn child.
Behind her the door opened, and every head in the room bent toward the monitors in front of them. After his daily
management meeting, her dad always hunted her down to remind her she was wasting her time and his with her learn-it-all
attitude. He crossed the quiet, equipment-filled room. "Any news today?"
Her job this week was her favorite - scanning the wires for good stories. "Plenty." She clipped the word, tugging down
the hem of her blouse. She couldn't be more than seven weeks along, but James Kendall hadn't reached the top of the
media heap by ignoring other people's secrets.
He stopped beside her desk and pulled up a chair.
"You're always defensive at work because I'm right." Lowering his voice so that it was covered by the computer's hum,
he flicked the screen she was reading. "You shouldn't distract yourself from your true job with these menial tasks."
"Learning how Kendall Press runs is my job, Dad."
"I'll teach you. My father taught me."
"The same father who suggested you park me with him and Grandma while you sowed more wild oats?" Her mother had died in
childbirth. Her dad had never remarried.
"Father may have appreciated the value of a good nanny, but he left me a strong company and I'm passing you an empire.
Who else can show you how to nourish it?"
He was in his CEO frame of mind. Olivia inched away from him, too stressed to deal with her dad or her curious
co-workers. "I'm busy." And their same old argument meant nothing compared to the fact that her child's father had
disappeared. A Naval pilot, Zach had embarked on a two-week training mission over a month ago.
The weeks had passed. He hadn't called. He hadn't shown up. She'd left countless messages on his cell phone. He'd never
given her a number for his apartment or his office. She couldn't even say where he worked for sure. They'd always
arranged to meet somewhere neutral. He'd been in Chicago since the end of summer to train on some sort of equipment
he'd avoided discussing. She'd seen his apartment once, and only because they'd been desperate for each other and her
father had been home that night.
Zach had been more than reserved about his life. He'd been secretive.
Working on very little sleep and even less food, she felt queasy, frightened and idiotic for getting herself in this
fix. She refused to leave one more message begging Zach to call her.
Suddenly her father took her arm and turned her to face him. "What's really wrong with you, Olivia?"
"I don't want to argue about work." She avoided his dark brown eyes. "I understand how you feel about Kendall Press. I
love knowing what's going on in the world before anyone else. It's a rush of power, but I have to learn the job my
"Why don't you trust my judgment anymore?"
She took refuge in the glowing screen in front of her. She'd changed because she was going to have Zach Calvert's baby,
and when her father knew he might force her out of her livelihood and her home.
Home. A place Zach had described with a softness so unlike him. He'd longed for the farmhouse and the relations he
loved in Tennessee. His hunger for family felt foreign to the only child of an only child.
"Olivia, tell me what's got you on edge." Losing patience, her father spun her chair.
She stared at him, but her head was with Zach. What if he'd gone home? To Bardill's Ridge and all those Calverts. The
possibility tempted her to confess everything. If anyone could find a guy in a small Tennesseean town, her dad could.
"Good God." Realization lit his eyes. "That pilot dumped you." He'd always said Zach, at twenty-six, was too old for
her, his job too dangerous. What he'd meant was he didn't want her to love someone whose work could take her away from
the family business. "Olivia?"
"Yeah." She'd told James about the training mission. "Zach was supposed to come back weeks ago. If he's home, he's
"Have you called? Did you go to his apartment building?"
"I only have a cell phone number he doesn't answer and I've leaned on the buzzer at his building so many times I think
his doorman's about to set the police on me."
Her father's head went back as if she'd struck him. "How serious are you about this guy?"
She barely kept from touching her belly where their baby grew, but the truth - that she loved Zach - wouldn't come
out of her mouth either. Not even she trusted true love at twenty-one. She blinked back tears that seemed to stun her
"Exactly where was he training? The address."
"He couldn't tell me." Maybe he just wouldn't.
"What do you know about his family?"
"I saw pictures at his apartment and I asked about everyone in them." His grandparents, hugging each other in photos on
his mantel and his cousins, Sophie and Molly, who'd been his surrogate sisters. His mom, Beth, he'd seemed anxious
about. She'd also never remarried after his father's death, and he thought she was lonely.
If his mother's loneliness mattered to him, wouldn't his lover's?
"You believe he had the training assignment?"
She nodded. Except for the moments when he'd made love to her, his mission had occupied him as if he was already gone.
She took a deep breath and applied some logic. "Maybe he took leave and went to Tennessee. He was homesick."
"That's where he's from? I'd give you time off to go see him if you'd get over this guy and concentrate on work."
"He didn't invite me." He'd made her want to know his "people." He'd made her love the place. He'd needed the
blue-and-green misty mountains that backed every photo on his wall and each memory in his love of home. The air and the
soil and the Smoky Mountains that formed Bardill's Ridge, Tennessee, ran in his blood like the blood of his family.
It wasn't her way or her father's. They cared for their North Shore entry in the National Historic Register, but it was
entrusted to them. It owned no part of her soul. Zach was rooted in those Tennesseean hills.
Excerpted from The Secret Father
by Anna Adams
Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd..
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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