Homecoming Wife by Joan Kilby released on Jun 24, 2004 is available now for purchase.
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By Joan Kilby
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
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Chapter OneADVANTAGE OF BACHELORHOOD Number 147: No wife to disapprove of a man's passion for mountain bikes.
Nate Wilde added the latest item to his ongoing mental list as he closed up his mountain-bike shop, Cycle Sports, and strapped on his helmet. He'd been compiling the list ever since the snowy Whistler night a decade ago when Angela left him. Technically speaking, he wasn't a bachelor because they were still married but for all practical purposes he was on his own.
Nate got on his favorite bike, the Balfa Belair. Blazing red with gold forks over the front wheel and a sweet-looking seat tower arrangement, the Balfa floated over the cobbled streets of Whistler Village. Nate turned down a flight of concrete stairs, causing a group of Japanese tourists to raise their cameras and click madly.
His brother, Aidan, had he known about the list, would have said Nate was rationalizing his loss. His cousin, Marc, who'd grown up with them after his mother died, would have told him he was full of shit, but that's what happened when a guy married too young and too fast.
And Angela, the only woman he'd ever loved, would have put her nose in the air, sniffed and said "typical." If she'd stuck around long enough to say anything, that is. She'd believed neither inhim nor their future together. He'd wanted kids; she'd been adamantly opposed. They'd been fighting over when to start a family the night she'd run off, breaking his heart and shattering his pride.
Barely a day went by when he didn't count his blessings that she was out of his life.
Barely a day went by when he didn't also wonder how she was, and what she was doing.
In fact, he knew what Angela was doing more or less all the time because her sister Janice had kept him up to date on the steady rise in Angela's fortunes since she left him. She'd studied business in Toronto then worked at the Globe and Mail newspaper until two months ago when she'd returned to Vancouver to take a high-powered job with a business magazine.
In all that time her only communication had been a brief phone call a month after her departure to say their marriage was a mistake followed by a garbled letter purporting to explain why she wasn't coming home but which left him no wiser.
His attempts to contact her through Janice had failed, and he'd been forced to conclude she wanted nothing more to do with him.
How could she have left him simply because she wasn't ready to have a baby?
Cycling home on the highway, Nate remembered that his fridge was seriously depleted so he stopped in at Nester's Market to stock up on essentials.
Janice's latest news flash was that Angela was coming to Whistler to baby-sit her ten-year-old nephew, Ricky, while Janice and her husband, Bob, went on a short vacation. In a small community like Whistler there was no way Nate and Angela could avoid seeing each other so he'd been preparing himself in advance to keep a lid on his anger, a tight rein on his libido and a watchful eye out for any assault on his pride.
ANGELA HAULED ON the steering wheel of Janice's ancient green Dodge and the car lumbered around the tight curves on the Sea-to-Sky highway north of Vancouver. Mountains rose steeply to her right, the waters of Howe Sound lapped the shore to her left and signs warning of falling rocks appeared around every other bend. She'd seen her sister and brother-in-law off at the airport and now she and Ricky were heading back to Whistler.
Ricky had his head down and was stabbing away at his Game Boy. His blond hair was gelled to spiky peaks and freckles smattered his straight nose. Below his shorts, both knees were scabbed over and Band-Aids, some clean, some grubby, plastered several fingers and an elbow.
If the baby she'd been carrying the night she ran away had lived, he or she would have been about the same age as Ricky.
Angela had pushed away similar thoughts for years; the closer she got to Whistler and Nate, the more frequently the baby came to mind. Would he have been athletic and full of pride like Nate, or ambitious and stubborn like her?
She didn't know much about kids in general, and she hadn't seen Ricky since he was an infant. Frankly, she was terrified of making mistakes with him. What if he didn't like her, or do what she told him to? What if he got hurt while under her care? According to Janice, he was both daring and accident-prone.
"What do you do for fun, Ricky?" she asked after her first few questions elicited only monosyllables.
"Ride my bike."
Three whole words. That was an improvement. When Janice and Bob had won a trip to Europe in a supermarket contest she'd gladly offered to babysit, not stopping to consider that taking care of a boy wasn't the same as watering a plant or even looking after a pet.
Cooking was another worry. If Ricky expected homemade meals every night he was in for an unpleasant surprise. "What do you like to eat?"
"Pizza." He glanced up from the miniature screen, leaving his fingers poised over the buttons. "Hamburgers."
"Great!" she said, relieved. "Those are my favorites, too."
"Ice cream," he went on loquaciously. "Candy, cookies, chips ... that kind of stuff."
"We'll go shopping as soon as we get to Whistler."
Excerpted from Homecoming Wife by Joan Kilby Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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