Surprise is an understatement for Sheriff Reed Larkin when he finds out his childhood sweetheart has returned home. After all these years Paige Keenan's smile can still make his heart ache. But what's the secret he can see in her whiskey-colored eyes? There's a little baby growing inside Paige, and it needs all the love and care she can give. In Reed's strong, protective arms she knows that both she and her baby will be safe. Dare Paige dream ...
Surprise is an understatement for Sheriff Reed Larkin when he finds out his childhood sweetheart has returned home. After all these years Paige Keenan's smile can still make his heart ache. But what's the secret he can see in her whiskey-colored eyes?
There's a little baby growing inside Paige, and it needs all the love and care she can give. In Reed's strong, protective arms she knows that both she and her baby will be safe. Dare Paige dream that they could one day become a family?
Paige Keenan needed to make a career
change. And soon.
She could no longer live in Denver, not with a chance of running into—her past. Pushing aside the bad thoughts, she peered in the window of the empty brick storefront with the For Rent sign.
Although the light was dim, she could see hardwood floors, and ornate door moldings and trim that was characteristic of a 1916 building.
Intrigued, she tried the large brass knob. Surprisingly it turned and she pushed open the solid oak door.
"Hello," she called and her voice echoed back. "Is anyone here?" Stepping into the long, narrow room, she looked around. All at once she could picture the space as hers.
A reception area adorned with oriental rugs and ferns and farther back a divider, separating the space for her private office.
Her excitement increased as she continued her search. It had always been her dream to one day have her own practice, but she'd gotten sidetracked with the excitement of working for the D.A. Suddenly her vision seemed to be more of a possibility—no, a necessity for survival.
Could moving back to Destiny be the answer to her situation?
In the back of the space, Paige found a storage room and another door. She tugged on the brass knob and it opened to a staircase. When she flipped the switch, a single light went on overhead, and she climbed creaking steps to a large musty-smelling room. Scarred hardwood covered the floors, and a tiny kitchen was tucked in the corner. Chipped cabinets hung open, displaying leftover canned goods from the last tenant. She was drawn to a bank of windows and a long, built-in bench beneath them. On the opposite wall another door led to abedroom and small bathroom.
Everything needed a good cleaning, and some paint.
She returned to the main room. It would take a lot of work, but she could make this livable. A shadow fell over the already dim room and through the windows she noticed dark clouds blocking the sun from the small Colorado mountain town. The wind picked up and it began to rain. Lightning flashed across the sky and seconds later the crash of thunder followed.
Paige turned to leave and noticed a man standing in the shadows of the staircase. She let out a gasp and her heart pounded in her chest. Another flash across the sky illuminated the gun he was holding.
"Sheriff," he announced. "Stay where you are ."
Paige felt the blood drain from her face as he stepped into the light wearing a khaki shirt and a silver badge. Then a familiar face came into view.
"Reed—" she whispered weakly. She tried to smile, but suddenly everything went spinning and her body began to crumple.
Reed Larkin holstered his gun and rushed to the woman just in time to catch her in his arms.
Not just any woman, but Paige Keenan. Gently he lowered her to the floor, cradling her in his arms. Her silky brown hair fell away from her flawless, but pale face. He placed his fingers against her neck to find her racing pulse.
"Great job, man, you nearly scared her to death. Paige—" He cupped her cheek. The softness of her skin was nearly his undoing. He knew under her lids were those whiskey- colored eyes that had haunted his dreams for years. His gaze moved to her oval face—the straight nose lightly dusted with freckles, the tiny cleft in her chin. A beautiful package. His attention rested on her full mouth as he recalled how she had tasted—
It had been nearly ten years since he'd last seen her, but he'd never been able to shake the feelings she evoked in him. His pulse went into overdrive, his palms began to sweat. Damn, it was like high school all over again.
"Paige, wake up. Come on, honey. Let me see those big beautiful eyes."
Finally she shifted, making a soft moaning sound, and murmured the words, "My baby." Her hand moved across her stomach.
Paige was pregnant? Reed glanced at her ringless finger. She wasn't married. Before he had the chance to react to the news, her eyelids fluttered open.
"Hi, Paige," he managed to say. "I've always dreamed of women falling for me, but not like this." He smiled, but quickly grew serious. "How do you feel? Should I call the paramedics?"
"No! I'm feeling better." She sat up slowly, avoiding his gaze. "I just forgot to eat—and you scared me to death pointing a gun at me ."
"You are trespassing ."
"The building is for rent and, I might add, the door was unlocked. I only came inside to look around ."
"We've had some kids vandalizing." He frowned. Was Paige moving back to Destiny?
"Are you looking for office space?"
She climbed to her feet and brushed her hand on her nicely fitting jeans. "Maybe. Any problems with that?"
He shrugged. Problems? Only about a dozen. "Just surprised that a big-time Denver attorney wants to open an office in a small town. I thought you outgrew Destiny, Colorado ."
Paige straightened slowly, testing her steadiness. What business was it of his now? At one time they'd been friends—more than friends. That was a long time ago.
"I could say the same thing about you. A hotshot FBI agent returns home and becomes a small town sheriff ."
Paige gave him a bold once-over. Reed Larkin was definitely more filled out at thirty than he'd been at seventeen. She examined his developed chest and broad shoulders. One thing hadn't changed, he still had deep set bedroom eyes, a strong jaw and black wavy hair. He looked pretty good in uniform, too. But then he'd always looked good to her.
His voice broke into her thoughts. "I had my reasons for returning ."
Years ago, Reed swore he'd never come back to Destiny. Never listen to another bad word about his family. Now Paige remembered why he'd returned.
"I heard about your mother's stroke. I'm sorry. How is she doing?" Sally Larkin had once worked at the Keenan Inn. That had been how Reed and Paige's friendship began.
"She has her good days, and her bad ones ."
"Is she allowed visitors?"
He nodded. "Your mother goes out all the time ."
"Is it all right if I visit her?"
"She'd like to see you." He studied her. "So are you going to be hanging around a while?"
"At least until Leah's wedding ." He nodded. "Holt's a nice guy. They seem happy ."
Too bad Reed didn't seem happy to see her. That bothered her. Over the years, she'd missed their closeness. The way they had always been able to share things. That ended when she'd made a decision—to push him out of her life.
If she decided to come back to Destiny, she would see Reed—all the time. That shouldn't bother her, but it did.
Right now, she needed her entire focus on one thing. Her baby. Everything else she would deal with later, including Reed Larkin. So she had to ignore the feelings he stirred in her, blaming it on her already jumbled emotions.
"I should get going," she said. "I'm meeting with Morgan ."
Reed raised an eyebrow. "You mean, the honorable mayor?"
"And your boss ."
"Oh, I'm shaking in my boots ." His attitude was back and suddenly she was remembering too much—the skinny little boy she befriended when some third- grade kids were picking on him on the playground. But later she hadn't been able to protect him against the sadness over his father's desertion.
"I really should go," she told him, not wanting to return to the bad memories. She turned to leave.
She stopped at the top of the steps. "What?"
"Have you told your family about—" His gaze went to her flat stomach. "Your condition?"
Paige tensed. How did he know? "I don't know what you're talking about," she denied.
"You murmured the words, my baby," he told her.