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Authors: Robin Wells

Baby, Oh Baby!

BOOK: Baby, Oh Baby!
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RAVE REVIEWS FOR

ROBIN WELLS, WINNER OF

THE NATIONAL READERS'

CHOICE AWARD AND THE

GOLDEN HEART AWARD!

"Robin Wells is an author to watch. We will be hearing much more of her. [Her writing] ... is hilariously funny, tender and sensuous."

—Rendezvous

"Robin Wells's ... touches of humor and passionate fireworks will steal readers' heats away."

—Romantic limes

"Ms. Wells dishes up a rousing good romance with liberally sprinkled flashes of love and laughter."

—Romantic limes

PRINCE CHARMING

"Ms. Wells's talent shines on every page of this terrific story.... An enchanting read filled with humor, passion and a cast of desirable characters, Prince Charming had me laughing out loud with delight. A must read for connoisseurs of laughter and romance."

—Rendezvous

"Prinz Charming is a funny, sexy, and charming Pygmalion tale. Highly enjoyable reading!"

—Romantic Times

"Prince Charming is an enjoyable and humorous contenpoary romance that readers will fully enjoy.... Ms. Wells will charm readers with this offbeat novel"

—Affaire de Coeur

TALL, DARK AND DADDY

"So," he asked. "What made you want me?"

Annie shrugged. "You had a good family health history. And your educational level and profession indicated that you were somewhat intelligent." He grinned, and she continued. "... And your physical description fit what I wanted."

He glanced over at her. "And what, exactly, was that?" Annie looked down at her hands. "Someone tall, with dark hair and eyes.'

"Why was that part of your criteria?"

Annie continued to stare at her manicure, her cheeks heating a little. She lifted one shoulder. "I don't know. I guess I just find it attractive."

"You wanted a dark-haired child?"

"Oh, th            at wasn't really the issue," she admitted.

He glanced at her curiously. "So what was?"

Annie lifted her shoulders and glanced away. "Fantasy, I suppose."

"Fantasy? Y-

She nodded, and he pressed further. "You mean the sexual kind?"

She blushed fiercely. "You're getting into a pretty personal topic here"

"The fact that we've had a child together is already pretty personal, if you ask me."

The man was right. The thought that they'd made a child, and without him ever having kissed her…it was enough to make Annie break into a sweat. There was something intensely primal about him anyway, despite his outward polish. Why did he have to be so good looking? It was impossible to look at him and not think about sex.

To Ken—Baby, oh Baby!

This one's for you.

A LOVE SPELL BOOK

® February 2001

Published by

Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc. 276 Filth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as `unsold and destroyed" to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this "stripped book."

Copyright 2001 by Robin Wells

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law

ISBN 0-505-52427-9

The name "Love Spell" and its logo are trademarks of 1chester Publishing Co., Inc.

Printed in the United States of America.

Chapter One

 

The smoked glass door of the Tulsa Fertility Center swooshed closed behind Jake Chastain; sealing out the rumble of late afternoon traffic on Peoria Avenue. Jake squinted, despite the fluorescent lighting. After the glare of the mid-May sun, the reception area seemed unnaturally dark.

But not nearly as dark as the emotions churning in Jake's belly. He was unprepared for how hard it hit him, the old, familiar pain. Two years had passed, yet here he was, his gut aching as if it all had just happened yesterday, the hurt as raw as freshly ground hamburger.

It was being in this place again, this place on which he and Rachel had pinned their highest hopes-A rush of old memories crowded in and piled on top of each other, threatening to scale the wall of numbness Jake had built to hold them at bay.

He drew a steadying breath and stepped deeper into the waiting room, his eyes adjusting to the light. Funny how silent and colorless the clinic was, consid all the bright, noisy dreams he and Rachel had incased here—dreams of a warm, squalling bundle in a pint or blue blanket, of bright balloons and boisterous bi[tl y parties, of flannel-clad feet scurrying to see what Santa had left under the tree on Christmas morning.

A baby. A family. A long and happy life together. Hard to believe he'd ever been naive enough to think that happily-ever-after endings were possible.

Well, he knew better now. Dreams were nothing but diving boards for disappointment. The higher you climbed, the deeper you plunged. He used to think life had meaning, but now he knew it was just a cosmic crapshoot. There was no meaning, no reason for anything. If there was a God—and Jake wasn't betting- on it—He was either a disinterested observer or a celestial tyrant who got his jollies from setting people up just to watch them fall.

What else could account for the senseless car wreck that had cost him his wife and his parents just as it looked as if everyone's dream of a child was about to come true?

Jake's gaze scanned the room. Two years had passed, but everything was just the same—the spotless beige carpet, the pristine white walls, the gray-and-beige chairs standing in military precision across the room. Even the faint, pungent scent of pine cleaner and antiseptic was the same. Rachel had always been impressed with the center's cleanliness, but it struck Jake now as a cruel mockery.

The clinic was sterile. Just like the patients who came here.

Jake resolutely strode toward the reception counter at the front of the room, where a pudgy young woman slouched behind an open sliding glass window. The blotchy pattern on her black-and-white dress reminded Jake of a dairy cow. So did the flat expression in her large brown eyes when she reluctantly pulled them away from the tabloid magazine spread in front of her.

The woman's demeanor changed the moment she set eyes on Jake. Straightening in her chair, she thrust out her chest and flashed a flirtatious grin.

Jake shot her a tight, I'm-strictly-here-on-business smile. Females had been fawning over him ever since his junior year in high school, when he'd shot to six foot-two, developed a cleft in his chin and lettered in football, baseball and basketball. He was used to receiving undue attention from the fairer sex, but he was still somewhat baffled by it.

Rachel used to say it was because he had the face of a movie star and the body of a professional athlete. "You're to women like catnip is to cats," she used to say. Instead of being threatened by his appeal, though,. Rachel had encouraged him to use it to his advantage. "Pack the jury box with women and flash them that killer smile," she'd told him. "You'll win every case."

When he'd gone into practice with Rachel's father, he'd done just that. Once again, Rachel had proven right. Rachel was almost always right. Nothing in Jake's life had felt right since she'd been gone, and nothing was likely to ever be right again.

The receptionist tossed her stringy brown hair as if it were Cindy Crawford's mane. "May I help you?"

Jake shifted his stance uneasily. "I phoned earlier. Whoever I talked to said I needed to come in and sign some papers."

"What kind of papers?"

Jake shoved a hand into the pocket of his navy trousers and angled a glance over his shoulder at the patients in the waiting room. A worried-looking woman in her early forties sat at the back of the room. A thirty-something couple huddled together near the front. A young man in jeans slumped in a chair against the wall, four seats away from a freckled, heavyset blonde with a magazine on her lap. All of them abruptly looked away as Jake caught them staring.

Damn. He hated stating his personal business in a roomful of strangers—especially a room as quiet as-this one, where every sound was amplified by the sheer force of everyone's boredom. Rachel had always managed things so that he'd never had to engage in a public conversation here.

Efficient, well-organized, far-thinking Rachel. Good God, how he missed her! She was the only woman he'd ever known who was as rational and logical as he was. They'd been peas in a pod, a perfect match. The pain in Jake's chest pulsed harder, deep and unrelenting, like a scarred-over shotgun wound with the buckshot still inside.

"My, uh, wife ..." To his dismay, his voice cracked on the last word. Damn it all. Two years had passed, but he still couldn't talk about her without his throat clenching up. He gritted his teeth, cleared his throat, and tried again. "My wife and I were patients of Dr. Borden."

The receptionist's face fell when he said "wife." Her eyes turned doleful and cowlike again. "I'm sorry, but Dr. Borden is no longer with us."

"No longer.... You mean he died?"

"Oh, my. I hope not." The receptionist chortled, revealing large, flat teeth that reinforced her bovine appearance. "He retired and moved to Florida."

It was a sad commentary on his state of mind that he'd immediately assumed the man was dead, Jake thought grimly. Well, it was no wonder. His whole world seemed to have died around him. His wife. His parents. Even the fish in his office aquarium. Sometimes it seemed as if he'd died, too, and the news was just late in getting to him.

The receptionist smacked a gray wad of gum. "Would you like to make an appointment with someone else?"

No I' d like to clear up a mistake." He pulled a folded white paper out of the inside pocket of his tailored suit jacket. "I got this in the mail." Jake thrust the form letter through the window. He could recite its contents from memory:

Dear Mr. Chastain:

Sperm donors like yourself provide an invaluable service to infertile couples. We appreciate your past support of our center, and encourage you to come in soon to make another donation. As before, ,we will be happy to pay you $350. Please call our office today to schedule an appointment.

The receptionist scanned the note and glanced up. "So you're here to make a donation?"

Jesus—she made it sound like he'd stopped by the Salvation Army with a bag of old clothes. Did he look like the kind of jerk who'd jack off in a jar for money?

With a dark scowl, he opened his mouth to ask her as much, then abruptly recalled the conversation he'd had with his father-in-law and legal partner, Tom Morrison, just that morning.

The distinguished, silver-haired man had strolled into Jake's oak-paneled office, looking uncharacteristically ill-at-ease. Tom had stood behind one of the two chairs that faced Jake's desk, drumming his fingers on the cordovan leather wingback. After an unusual amount of small talk, he'd finally gotten to the point.

"Some of the staff have been complaining about you, Jake."

Jake had looked back down at the complicated corporate merger he'd been studying when Tom had walked in. "Sharon again, huh? Well, if she's not happy, she can shove off."

"She's the fifth secretary you've had in six months," Toni had said mildly- "But it isn't just Sharon. Dottie says the entire staff is upset."

A note of concern in Tom's voice grabbed Jake's attention. Dottie had been Tom's office manager for more than twenty years, and the older man put a lot of stock in anything she had to say. "What's the problem?"

Tom had rubbed his clean-shaven cheek as he eased himself into a chair. "Well, everyone seems to think you're a little—ah-harsh."

Jake had scowled. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

Tom had lifted his shoulders, his tanned face creasing into a placating smile. "Guess they want to be addressed in a kinder, gentler manner."

"Fine. I'll start calling everyone `Sugar' and `Honey Pie.'"

Tom had raised both hands. "Look, Jake, I have no complaints. You're doing a great job, and you're making money for the firm hand over fist. I support you one hundred percent. It's just that ... well, some of the folks in the office have thin skins." Tom's face had been a study of discomfort. He'd leaned forward and picked up a brass paperweight from Jake's desk. It was shaped like a golf ball, and it had been a gift from Rachel. Jake watched Tom roll it between his palms. "I found Nancy in accounting in tears the other day, and two of the gals in the file room complained that you chewed them out for no reason. We've been through three law clerks in the last year, and then there's your secretary situation. . . ."

            Jake's fingers had tightened on the arm of his high-backed leather chair, a pang shooting through his gut. He'd always been close to Rachel's parents, had always considered himself lucky to have drawn Tom and Susanna out of the great cosmic in-law card deck. He'd known them for most of his life. His family had moved next door to the Morrisons when Jake was thirteen, and he'd spent more time at their house during his high- school years than he'd spent at his own. In a lot of ways, they'd been more like family to him than his own parents had been. It hurt to see Tom squirming like a lawn grub under the weight of whatever news he had to break.

BOOK: Baby, Oh Baby!
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