Valentine's Secret Child

Valentine's Secret Child

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by Christine Rimmer

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Can he embrace the child he never knew he had?

Nine years ago, Kelly Bravo and Michael Vakulic went their separate ways--he to a new name and a new life, she to a family she never knew she had. And then Kelly comes across an tantalizingly familiar photo in the newspaper. Her long lost Michael has reinvented himself--as Mitch Valentine, multimillionaire


Can he embrace the child he never knew he had?

Nine years ago, Kelly Bravo and Michael Vakulic went their separate ways--he to a new name and a new life, she to a family she never knew she had. And then Kelly comes across an tantalizingly familiar photo in the newspaper. Her long lost Michael has reinvented himself--as Mitch Valentine, multimillionaire entrepreneur. As for Kelly, she's got a new name too--mother! And a little girl with Michael's eyes...

How can she tell him the truth?

How can she not?

Product Details

Publication date:
Bravo Family Ties , #1879
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"Valentine." Renata Thompson sighed. Dramatically. "Won't you be mine?"

Kelly Bravo glanced over her shoulder, coffeepot in hand. "Doubtful."

Renata let out a laugh. "Not a problem. You may be the boss, but you're just not my type."

Kelly filled her mug and put the pot back on the warming plate. She took the chair across from Renata. "So, then. Who's your valentine?"

"His name is Valentine. Mitch Valentine." Renata had the Sacramento Bee spread open on the round breakroom table. She pointed a slim brown finger at a publicity headshot of some guy. Kelly glanced at it without really looking, shrugged and sipped her coffee.

"You must have heard of him," Renata insisted. "Guy has billions. Owns a bunch of companies. Started from zip. Now he's written a book. Making it Happen: Change Your Mind, Transform Your Life."

Kelly sipped again. "Sounds…uplifting. But, no. Sorry. The name's not ringing a bell."

Renata's mug said Shrink. She grabbed it and took a swig of the murky breakroom brew. "He's speaking at Valley University tonight. I may have to go. Whether he changes my life or not, he is superhot. And as rich as they come. Hot and rich. Does it get any better?"

"Well, now." Kelly raised her own mug high. "A good sense of humor. Gotta have that."

"Honey, if he's rich and hot, he doesn't need to make me laugh. We'll spend our lives shopping—and having sex."

"I am shocked, I tell you." Kelly put on her most disapproving frown. "Shocked."

Renata spun the paper around and slid it across to Kelly's side of the table. "Look." She plunked her finger down hard right above the photo of Mr. Hot-and-Rich. "Tell me you'd pass up a chance with that."

Kellygroaned. "Sorry. Not interested. I'm a single mom with a full-time job. I don't have time to go chasing after some Tony Robbins wanna-be."

"The eyes alone. In-tense. Look." So Kelly looked. "Oh, my. He's very…" The words trailed off. "Not possible," she heard herself whisper.

"'Scuse me?"

But Kelly didn't answer. She stared at the photo and couldn't believe what she was seeing.

From somewhere far, far away Renata was asking, "Kelly? Kelly, are you all right?"

She was not all right. Not in the least. Because she knew those eyes. That mouth. That straight slash of brow…


He looked…older.

But of course he would, wouldn't he? It had been a decade, after all.

His face, once hollow-cheeked, had filled out. His shoulders—what she could see of them—were broader. Much broader. He seemed, in the photo, so…confident. This man looked as if he was ready to take on the world, a mover and shaker if ever there was one, the polar opposite of the boy she had loved.

But still. She would know those eyes and that mouth anywhere. Her thin, withdrawn video-game-obsessed high-school sweetheart, Michael Vakulic, had become someone named Mitch Valentine.

"God. Kelly. Are you—"

"Fine." Kelly forced herself to lift her head and aim a smile at the dark, exotic face across the table. "I'm fine." She played it light, pretended to fan herself.

"Whew. You're right. The guy is hot."

Renata's worried frown faded. "Told you so." Now she was looking exceedingly smug. She reached to take the paper back.

But before she completed the action, Carol Pace, the center's business manager, appeared in the open doorway. "Renata. I need the file on the J. Carera family."

Renata was one of the four family counselors Kelly had on staff at Sacramento County Family Crisis Center. The woman was amazing with families in trouble, but not so hot at keeping on top of her paperwork. "It should be there. Filed under C."

"No kidding. Not there."

"All right, all right. I'm coming…" Shaking her curly head, Renata got up and followed Carol out.

There was no one else in the breakroom. Kelly had never been so grateful to be left alone in her life.

Ordering her hands to stop shaking, she folded the paper with Michael's picture on it, grabbed her coffee and stood on shaky legs. Once upright, she raced out the door and down the hall, sloshing coffee as she went.

At last, she reached her corner office. She darted inside, then stuck the paper under her arm to free a hand so she could close the door and turn the lock.

The lock clicked shut. She leaned her forehead against the doorframe and whispered desperately, "It can't be him, no way it's him…."

Her heart was galloping like a hundred wild horses. She sucked in a long breath, let it out with agonized slowness and ordered her pulse to stop pounding so loud she couldn't hear herself think.

God. Her whole body was shaking. She'd splashed coffee on the back of her hand—and her shoes, as well.

With another deep breath, she pushed off from the door, turned and made herself walk to her desk. She set her coffee cup on the stone coaster, where her nine-year-old daughter, DeDe, had personally painted a stick-figure deer along with the words Mommy, you're a dear in shiny pink letters.

The newspaper slid out from under her arm and flopped to the floor. Swearing under her breath, she grabbed it up, slapped it down on the desk and whipped out a few tissues from the box by her computer monitor.

She wiped the coffee off the back of her hand and then slipped off one tan suede shoe and then the other, to try and get the coffee off of them. Were they ruined? She'd take a brush to them when she got home. But at the moment, a wrecked pair of shoes was the least of her problems.

Michael. Oh, God. Michael…

Her phone rang. She punched Hold without picking up, then buzzed the receptionist. "Melinda, I'm in the middle of something here." Well, it was true. And it was something big—even if it wasn't the least work-related. "Could you take that call for me and get a message? And hold my calls until further notice… Yes. Terrific. Thanks." She hung up and dropped into her swivel chair.

The section of paper was right there on the desk pad in front of her, folded and folded again, the pages slightly disar-ranged now….

Gripping the chair arms in white-knuckled hands and glaring at the folded paper, Kelly swung the chair sharply back and forth. Such a seemingly harmless thing. The Sacramento Bee for Tuesday, February 13th. Innocuous. Mundane.

Yet it threatened to change her life and the life of her only child. Forever.

DeDe, in pink tights and a tutu, beamed at her from the picture on the corner of her desk. That one had been taken at one of her dance recitals last fall. Next to it, there was one of DeDe and Candy, the ancient black mutt that had showed up on their doorstep five years before and swiftly become one of the family. DeDe, seven at the time the picture was taken, had her arms around the dog's neck. She was smiling wide, proudly displaying the gap where she'd lost two front baby teeth. There were others pictures of DeDe, on the bookcase, as well as on the credenza. Two of them showed Kelly and DeDe together, one was of DeDe with her uncle Tanner and another of DeDe, Kelly, Tanner—and Hayley, who was Kelly and Tanner's long-lost sister. They'd found Hayley just that previous June….

Kelly closed her eyes, sucked air through her nose. She could look at all her office pictures again. And again. A thousand times. But eventually, she'd have to open that paper. There was, in the end, no escaping the image there. The truth had to be faced.

With swift, determined movements, she hauled her chair in close to the desk and spread the paper wide.

And there he was again. Michael. Older, bigger, stronger, more confident, more…everything. But still. It was Michael. She was certain.

Meet the Author

A New York Times bestselling author, Christine Rimmer has written over ninety contemporary romances for Harlequin Books. Christine has won the Romantic Times BOOKreviews Reviewers Choice Award and has been nominated six times for the RITA Award. She lives in Oregon with her family. Visit Christine at

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Valentine's Secret Child (Silhouette Special Edition Series #1879) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kelly Bravo was madly in love back in high school with Michael Vakulic but she had a situation that made Kelly pick going to live with her brother, Michael wasn't happy.....Kelly found herself pregnant and by then she couldn't find Michael and her brother Tanner has tried over it's 9 years later. By accident Kelly sees a photo of Mitch Valentine, he looks just like Michael! Mitch Vlentine's written a book and is now on a book tour. He's the father of her child, DeDe, and how can she tell him? This is the story of their new found situation that Mitch is not happy with. He feels very cheated but all 3 try to make the best of it. We get to read how! Ms Rimmer has written a wonderful book to add to the Bravo series. It's nice once more to have the heroine be a Bravo.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kelly Bravo and Michael Vakulic had loved each other with their all their young hearts. Kelly didn¿t know that she had an older brother until Tanner had came looking for her. Now that he had found Kelly, Tanner wanted to take her back to his home. Michael told Kelly to choose which one she wanted to be with Michael or Tanner. Kelly went home with Tanner and when she discover that she was pregnant with Michael¿s child she returned to Michael¿s, only to learn he had pack up and left, leaving Kelly with no way of finding him. Kelly was raising her nine-year-old daughter DeDe and was still having her brother Tanner who was a P.I. looking for Michael? Kelly worked at the Sacramento County Family Crisis Center in California. One of the women that Kelly worked with was talking about an article about a hot looking man who was going to speak at the University that evening. Kelly looks at the picture and she couldn¿t believe her eyes. This man named Mitch Valentine couldn¿t be her Michael Vakulic could he? Kelly can¿t believe that she had finally had found the father of her child, would Mitch except DeDe and want to be in her life? Will Mitch blame Kelly for keeping his daughter a secret? Christine Rimmer story has me turning the pages quickly to see how this story would end. Will true love find a way for Kelly and Mitch?