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The Baby Surprise - Brenda Harlen

The Baby Surprise - Brenda Harlen

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BooksbyBrendaHarlenSilhouetteSpecialEditionOnceandAgain#1714*HerBest-KeptSecret#1756TheMarriageSolution#1811OneMan’sFamily#1827TheNewGirlinTown#1859**ThePrince’sRoyalDilemma#1898**ThePrince’sCowgirlBride#1920††FamilyinProgress#1928**ThePrince’sHolidayBaby#1942TheTexasTycoon’sChristmasBaby#2016‡‡TheEngagementProject#2021‡‡ThePregnancyPlan#2038‡‡TheBabySurprise#2056SilhouetteRomanticSuspenseMcIver’sMission#1224SomeKindofHero#1246ExtremeMeasures#1282BulletproofHearts#1313DangerousPassions#1394BRENDAHARLENgrewupinasmalltownsurroundedbybooksandimaginaryfriends.Althoughshealwaysdreamedof  beingawriter,shechosetofollowamoretraditionalcareerpathfirst.Aftertwoyearsofpracticingasanattorney(includinganappearanceinfrontoftheSupremeCourtofCanada),shegaveupher“real”job
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tobeamomandtotryherhandatwritingbooks.Threeyears,fivemanuscriptsandanotherbabylater,shesoldherfirstbook—anRWAGoldenHeartwinner—toSilhouetteBooks.BrendalivesinsouthernOntariowithherreal-lifehusband/hero,twoheroes-in-trainingandtwoneuroticdogs.Sheisstillsurroundedbybooks(toomanybooks,accordingtoherchildren)andimaginaryfriends,butshealsoenjoyscommunicatingwith“real”people.ReaderscancontactBrendabye-mailat brendaharlen@yahoo.comorbysnailmailc/oSilhouetteBooks,233Broadway,Suite1001,NewYork,NY10279.EpilogueOliviaLynnCrawfordwasbornninemonthslaterandchristenedontheone-yearanniversaryofhe parents’wedding.SinceAshleyandMeganhadbothmissedthenuptials,theymadesuretheywereonhand—withhusbandsandchildrenintow—forthebaby’sbaptism.Ofcourse,ithelpedthatZachwasabletogetthemallagreatdealonflightsthroughtheairlineforwhichhewasnowworking.AndthoughPaige’scousinshadplannedtostayatanearbyhotel,Zach’sparentshadinsistedthattheycouldfindroomforeveryoneinthemainhouse.Itwasatightsqueeze,butnoonecomplained.NooneexceptZach.“Iwashopingforamoreprivateanniversarycelebration,”hegrumbledtohiswife.“Ihaven’thadanytimealonewithyousincethebabywasborn.”“We’llbealonewhenthekidsgotosleep,”Paigesaid,andsheknewthatdespitehisprotests,hewasashappyasshewastohavetheirfamilyaroundtocelebrateayearthathadbeenfilledwithadjustmentsforbothofthem.She’dpassedtheCaliforniabarandwasjobsharingwithanotherattorneywhowantedtospendmoretimewithherchildren.Thoughshe’dworriedaboutgoingbacktoworkandputtingEmmaindaycare,KathleenandJustinhadalleviatedherconcernsbyofferingtowatchEmma.Theyhadsinceextendedtheoffertoincludetheirnewestgranddaughter.ItwasanarrangementthatmadeHaydenashappyasherparents,becausethetimetheyspentwiththegrandchildrenwastimetheyweren’tinterferinginthebusiness,andthewinerywasthrivingunderhemanagement.ItwasalsoaconvenientarrangementforZachandPaige,sincetheywerelivingintheguestcottagewhiletheyfinalizedplansfortheirownhometobebuiltonpropertythey’dpurchasedafewmilesdowntheroad.Asshelookedaroundateveryonewhohadgathered,shesaidasilentthank-youtothefriendaftewhomsheandZachhadnamedtheirdaughter,forhelpinghertodiscoverthetruevalueandimportanceoffamily.ForPaige,thatincludedherauntsandcousinsandtheirrespectivespousesandchildren,andZach’s parentsandsistersandalltheconnectionsthatflowedfromthem.ButattheheartofherfamilywasZach,themanshelovedenoughtofollowtotheendsoftheearth.Andthemanwholovedherenoughto
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understandhowmuchsheneededaplacetocallhome.Asifheknewexactlywhatshewasthinking,Zachputhisarmacrosshershouldersandhuggedheclose.Andshesmiledupathim,knowingthatinhisarms,shewasfinallyexactlywhereshebelonged.ChapterOneFivemonthslateAsalittlegirl,Paigehadneverreallyfeltasifshehadahome,asiftherewasanywhereshetruly belonged.GrowingupastheonlychildofadivorcedArmycolonel,she’dlefttoomanyhomesandtoomanyfriendstocount,anexperiencethathadtaughtherearlyonnottogettooattachedtoanyplaceor anyone.Whenshewasfifteen,herfatherhaddecidedthatPaigewastoomuchtroubletokeepwithhimandhadsenthertolivewithhissisterandherfamily.Eventhen,Paigehadmostlykepttoherself.Infact,forthefirstsixmonthsshe’drefusedtoputherclothesinthedresseroftheroomshe’dbeentoldwasherown,certainshewouldneedtopackupandleaveagainassoonasshefeltsettled.Butsixmonthshadturnedintoayearandthentwo,andPaigefoundherselfgrowingclosetoAshleyandMegan,thetwosisterswhowerehercousinsandnowalsoherbestfriends.Still,heraunt’sresidencehadneverfeltlikehomesomuchasahousethatshewasvisiting.EvenwhenPaigemovedintoherowncondoinSyracuse,itwaslittlemorethanaplacetostoreherbelongingsandlayherhead.ButtherewasahouseonChetwoodStreetinPinehurst,NewYork,thatAshleyandMeganhadpurchasedafewyearsearlier,andPaigefeltmoreathometherethananywhereelseshe’deverlived.Somaybeitwasn’tsurprisingthatitwaswhereshewentwhenherlifefellapart.Shehadcalledbothofhercousinstoletthemknowthatshewantedtocomehomeforawhileandtomakesuretheydidn’tmindifshestayedatthecurrentlyemptyhouse.Meganhadbeenthefirsttomoveout,whenshe’dmarriedGageRichmondthepreviousyear,followedbyAshley,whohadvacatedthe premisesonlyamonthago,afterherweddingtoCameronTurcotte.Thesistershaddecidedtolistthehouseforsalebuthadn’tyettakenanystepsinthatdirection,soPaigehadproposedthatsherentthe propertyforthesummer.Shereallywasn’tsurehowlongsheintendedtostay.Hercareerasafamily-lawattorneyusuallykepthertoobusytoallowforanythingmorethanalongweekend,andeventhensheusuallyworkedextrahoursbothbeforeandafterinordertomakeupforthetimeawayfromheroffice.Asforanactualvacation,shehonestlycouldn’trememberthelasttimeshe’dtakenone,althoughshehadtakenmorethantheoccasionaldayhereandthereoverthepastfivemonths—afactthathadnotgoneunnoticedbythepartnerswhowerenowconcernedaboutherapparentlackofcommitmenttoherclientsandthefirm.Itwasthereasonforthishiatus,whichcamewiththerecommendationthatshetakethetimetothinaboutwhatshewantedforherfuture.Asifhavingfull-timecareofafourteen-month-oldbabyallowedonetimetothink.Atfirstshe’dbeensoshockedbythesuggestionthatshehadn’tknownwhattosayordo.Heimmediateinstincthadbeentoinsistthatshewantedwhatshe’dalwayswanted—apartnershipatthe
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