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Coming Home To Texas
By Victoria Chancellor
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJodie Marsh gathered her courage along with her Kate Spade tote and umbrella, preparing to make a mad dash toward Travis Whitaker's front porch. A mad dash toward her immediate future. With one last sigh, she pushed open the door to her rental car and swung her legs out. Her feet landed in a puddle and she watched as her Manolo Blahnik sandals disappeared in a small pool of muddy water. Great. Now she would squish when she confronted him.
Travis wasn't expecting her and she doubted he'd even heard the car pull into the driveway over the persistent rain. His house looked spacious and new, although it also reminded her of the old rock homes and weathered-wood barns she'd seen dotting the countryside. She assumed he'd designed it since he was an architect.
Jodie stopped on the porch and folded her umbrella, shaking the water from it. Frowning, she wiggled her sandals, but they were still wet enough to make her feet feel slippery. And cold. She'd assumed Texas would be warmer and drier. Now she was mentally and physically uncomfortable. She took another deep breath and peered inside the house.
The windows were dark and looked rather intimidating beneath the leaden sky, but she wasn't going to let rain or her imagination stop her from talking to the man with whom she'd spent one spectacular weekend almost five weeks ago. He'd been a blind date, but a fantastic one. They'd shared an immediate attraction - and much more - for two and a half days in Monte Carlo.
She'd hesitated long enough. After placing a hand on her stomach, she rang the doorbell. And waited.
And waited. Where was Travis? She'd called from the airport but had hung up as soon as he'd answered. Calling had been a mistake. She couldn't talk to him on a crackling, staticky cell phone during a thunderstorm. What she had to say needed to be said in person, so she'd driven here as quickly as possible from the San Antonio airport.
"Where are you, Travis Whitaker?" she whispered as she pressed the doorbell again then added a few knocks in case the electricity was out. The lunch crowd at a quaint diner in downtown Ranger Springs had told her how to find the ranch, and she had to assume he hadn't left in the past hour.
Just when she thought she might have to search elsewhere on the property for the elusive architect, the door flew open.
"Hello, Travis." She stared at his disheveled, sun-streaked hair, frayed University of Texas sweatshirt and faded jeans. His beautiful feet were bare. He looked so much like he had just after they'd made wild, passionate love that her heart skipped a beat.
"What are you - Never mind, that was rude, and not what I meant. Please, come inside."
She leaned her umbrella against the house, shook more water from her sandals and slid past him into the warmth of his home. Mmm. He even smelled the same, like clean, warm male and Mediterranean sunshine, despite the rainy, cool Texas day.
"Can I get you something? You look a little cold."
She wasn't about to tell him she was shaking more from nerves than the weather. Instead she shook her head. "I'm fine."
"Come into the great room. I have a fire going."
She followed him down the slate-tiled hallway, her wet sandals slapping against the floor, like a prisoner being led to the gallows. Not that they really used gallows anymore. Not that she'd done anything wrong, or wanted to feel like a criminal ... or a victim.
Not that she was so nervous that she was babbling inside her head. With each step, an unaccustomed sense of panic increased until she couldn't stand the tension a moment longer.
"Wait," she said, grabbing his arm as they reached the doorway. "I have something to tell you and I need to do it now, before we get comfortable in front of the fire." Before he made her feel welcome in his home.
"What's wrong?" He looked so handsome, so concerned, as he reached out to steady her. His hands felt strong and comforting on her shoulders, as if he'd reached out to her many times before. As if they'd had more than a couple of fantastic days together.
She wanted to wrap her arms around his neck, to hold him tight and to whisper the truth. But she needed to see his face, not retreat to his warmth and strength, when she broke the news.
"Not quite wrong, but ..." she began. "Well, I'm not sure how you're going to react, so I need to just tell you this. Right now, right here."
"What's going on, Jodie?"
She took a deep breath, then the words rushed past her cold, trembling lips. "I'm pregnant. The baby is definitely yours. And we need to get married right away."
He looked as stunned as she'd felt when the doctor had confirmed the pregnancy kit test result. America's new "girl next door" was going to be an unwed mother unless she could get Travis Whitaker's immediate cooperation.
"PREGNANT?" he repeated, dropping his hands from her shoulders and stepping back. His immediate joy that she'd arrived in Ranger Springs, coupled with surprise that she'd sought him out, came to an abrupt halt. He felt as if he'd been poleaxed. Him, a father?
But he shouldn't be all that surprised. They'd used protection all but one time, when she'd surprised him in the shower. He hadn't been prepared for her sexy smile, her slippery, soft skin and very talented use of a body puff. In so many ways Jodie was unlike any other woman he'd been involved with.
"Yes, pregnant," she said. "I know I said we should be okay, that it was a safe time of the month, but apparently I was wrong."
"I - I don't know what to say."
She narrowed her eyes and placed her hands on her curvy hips. "You don't have to say anything, but I'm hoping I can get your cooperation. Travis, this is important to me."
"Having a baby is rather important to everyone involved, wouldn't you say?" he asked with barely controlled sarcasm. What did she mean, it was important to her, when she'd just dropped a bombshell on him and added that they needed to get married right away?
"Look, I know you're shocked and disappointed -"
"With all due respect," he interrupted, running a hand through his shaggy hair, "I don't think you know me well enough to decide what I'm feeling."
Excerpted from Coming Home To Texas by Victoria Chancellor Copyright © 2004 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Plus size model Jodie Marsh arrives at the home of architect Travis Whitaker in Ranger Springs, Texas with news that she is pregnant with his child. Though a bit shocked, Travis handles the news quite well as to what their two and half days blind date in Monte Carlo ended up with. Jodie explains that she has just signed a contract as the ¿girl next door¿ model that has a morality clause in it. An unwed mother would nullify the contract so she wants Travis to marry her in a marriage of convenience.................................... Travis is reluctant to wed, but agrees to do so only if Jodie agrees to try to make their relationship work in a real marriage. As they live as husband and wife expecting their first child, the couple falls in love with one another, but both fears admitting the truth to their partner................................. Contemporary romance readers will enjoy this fine tale that turns the marriage of convenience upside down as the couple, especially the hunk, wants to make it real. The story line is fun to follow as the athletic Jodie does not allow her size 14-16 to interfere with her gusto for life. Although the relationship between the lead couple seems to ideal considering its start, fans will be pleased with this quality novel...................... Harriet Klausner