Authors: Tina Leonard,Rebecca Winters
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Fiction
“Come on, sweetheart. Let’s go give you a bath and make you
comfy.” Ten minutes later Jack lay on his tummy on top of the bed and watched
her while she talked to Sheila North on the phone.
“I’ve phoned your husband’s attorney and explained the
situation. He’s supposed to get back to me after he’s reached his client, but I
haven’t heard from him yet. Anything could be happening as we speak. I’m glad
Captain Patterson has taken charge of your case. You’ll be safe with him. Keep
me posted, and hang in there.”
“I will. Thanks, Sheila.”
Andrea hung up and lay down alongside Jack, who’d fallen
asleep. Thanks to Flynn, she knew she was safe.
There were a bunch of Christmas trees for sale in front
of the store. Flynn walked past them and went inside to grab a shopping cart and
“Hey, Flynn? What are you doing in the baby-care section?”
Uh-oh. He recognized his friend’s voice and turned around. “How
are you doing, Chuck?”
His rancher friend grinned. “I was about to ask you the same
thing. It’s been a month.”
“I know. I was on a case out of town that lasted longer than I
would have expected. Now I’ve been brought in on another case.”
“So what gives with all the diapers and formula?”
In a low voice he said, “For the moment, I’ve got a family
under witness protection.” That was as close to the truth as he wanted to get.
If anyone found out he had a gorgeous woman like Andrea staying under his roof,
the news would spread among his friends like wildfire.
“A family with a baby, no less. That’s tough, especially at
Christmas. I guess you won’t be making it to the Crandalls’ on Christmas
“Well, give me a call when you’re free and we’ll do some
“Sounds good. This will be over soon. See you later.”
Hoping he wouldn’t bump into anyone else he knew, Flynn went
over to the food aisles and filled the shopping cart. On his way to the checkout
stand, he passed the Christmas section. A display of frosted, colored lights
flickered on and off, drawing his attention.
His little girl had been mesmerized by the flashing lights on
their tree. Maybe Jack would like them, too. On a whim, he grabbed four boxes
plus a Christmas tree skirt and put them in the cart.
Within fifteen minutes he had everything in the Volvo,
including a Christmas tree with a wooden stand.
He had only a couple more things to get, so he drove to a store
where he could purchase a fold-up playpen that could be made into a bed. He
bought that and a carry-cot. Before he left the store, he’d also bought a baby
quilt with blue and green hippos on it. When Andrea had fled New Mexico, she’d
brought only the bare necessities with her.
On the way home, he checked with the guys on surveillance. All
was quiet. He phoned his boss, who said the man who’d called 911 hadn’t seen the
camper truck, and neither had the convenience-mart clerk who’d been inside the
store too busy to notice what was going on outside. Flynn was still waiting to
hear back from Sheila North concerning Jerry Sinclair’s whereabouts.
Checking with the hospital, he learned the patient still wasn’t
talking. That didn’t surprise him. He’d wait until tomorrow when the suspect was
taken to the jail in Marfa, then Flynn would try talking to him again. If the
police had rounded up a public defender for him, then Flynn would encourage him
to get his client to talk. For now he had nothing to do but go home and make
things comfortable for his unexpected guests.
When he reached the house, he had to make four trips from the
car to get everything inside. He stood the tree next to the fireplace, then went
back in the kitchen to put the groceries away. Still no sound coming from the
other part of the house. He finally picked up the box with the playpen and
walked to the hallway.
Andrea had left the door open. The sight that greeted his eyes
brought a lump to his throat. She was sound asleep on her side, still dressed in
the clothes she’d worn home from the hospital. Little Jack was wide awake on his
tummy with his head bobbing around, seemingly happy as could be.
Until now Flynn hadn’t noticed that his eyes were blue like his
mother’s, but not quite as brilliant. The second the baby saw him in the
doorway, he started to cry.
Flynn didn’t know if he was frightened or wanted to be picked
up. Whatever the reason, it brought Andrea awake. A cry of surprise escaped her
lips. “I didn’t know you were back—” She sat up, enchantingly disheveled, and
reached for Jack.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you, but he saw me.”
“I can’t believe I fell asleep.”
“You needed it. As long you’re awake, I’ll just set this up.”
Flynn opened the box with the playpen and started putting it together as a bed.
Luckily it wasn’t too complicated. He had to look at the instructions only
twice. That was a good thing, since he needed to keep busy before she caught him
staring. Her face and womanly shape made too tempting a picture.
She slid off the bed holding Jack. “I can’t believe you’ve gone
to so much trouble. You shouldn’t have done it. I hope we’ll be able to leave
“I wouldn’t plan on it until after Christmas. We know nothing
about your husband’s activities or his involvement in this situation. Until we
do, keeping you and the baby safe is the first priority.” He glanced at Jack.
“That little guy does a lot of moving and needs his own bed.”
“Then let me pay you for it.”
“It’s Christmas. I felt like buying him some presents.” Flynn
couldn’t believe he’d said that. “There’s a pack of diapers and formula on the
kitchen counter. Go ahead and take what you need. Make yourself at home. He
sounds like he’s hungry.”
“Thank you,” she said in a quiet voice. “Come on, Jack. Let’s
go warm a bottle for you.”
Flynn lifted his head. “He drank it cold for me last night.
Your son’s a real trouper.” At that remark, an unguarded smile broke out on her
face. Something about it warmed places inside him that hadn’t seen the sunshine
in two years.
A few minutes later, from the other part of the house, he heard
her cry, “You bought a tree, too?” It was a happy sound. He was glad he’d gone
to the trouble. After he took the quilt out of the sack and draped it over the
side of the playpen, he gathered up the mess and headed for the garage.
As he passed her in the kitchen, he noticed she’d taken the top
off the bottle to warm it in the microwave. “How do tacos sound for dinner
later? I bought a ton of groceries.”
“Anything sounds good.” By now she’d found a kitchen chair and
had started feeding Jack.
When he’d put the box out in the garbage and had come in again,
she said, “Can I ask you one more favor?”
He washed his hands. “Name it.”
“Will you please forget about us and take care of yourself now?
I happen to know you were already up a long time before you came across the
accident scene. You need twelve hours of sleep at least.”
“I’ll admit I could use a few.”
“I thought so. Let’s not worry about dinner right now. I’ll
find myself something to eat when I want to snack. Jack and I will play in front
of the TV and have a great time. If you should wake up before I’m in bed, I’ll
dinner. That way I won’t feel like I’m an
He flicked her a glance. “You’re the kind of guest I could get
used to.” Again, he didn’t know where the comment had come from. “If you’re
“The next time I’m up, I’ll string the Christmas lights. They
flash on and off. My daughter was fascinated by them.”
Her mouth lifted at one corner. “No doubt Jack will be
hypnotized. Now, do yourself a favor and go to bed before you pass out on your
“I look that bad, do I?”
“Do you want an honest answer to that question?” she
She’s getting to you, Flynn.
guys would say, Andrea Sinclair had slipped in under the radar. He sucked in his
breath. “If something comes up, promise you won’t hesitate to wake me?”
“Cross my heart.”
“All right, then.” Calling on his self-control, which was
practically nonexistent at this point, he resisted the urge to give them both a
kiss before he left the kitchen.
After a shower and a shave, he was halfway gone and diving for
the bed when his cell phone rang. He had to answer it.
“It’s Nyall. The police in Carlsbad can’t find Jerry Sinclair
or his Audi. He called in sick yesterday, so he didn’t have to show up for his
flight. There’s an APB out on him. I’ve put extra security on your house in case
he’s lurking around here. Watch your back.”
“Will do. Thanks for the update.”
He pulled the covers over himself and didn’t know anything else
until his phone rang again. When he reached for it, he saw that it was quarter
to ten. He’d slept a full eight hours! After checking the caller ID, he clicked
on. It was his sister.
“Hi. I know it’s getting late, but Kaye and I haven’t heard
from you in weeks and just wondered how you’re doing. Where are you?”
“Home in bed. How’s everybody at your house?”
“Better now that I’m talking to you.”
His sisters worried about him too much. “I’m on a case right
now.” One he’d never seen coming.
“Okay, I’ll let you go, but remember if you need anything at
all, call us.”
“I always do.”
“No, you don’t. We all love you, Flynn.”
“I love you, too. Did you get the boxes I sent?”
“Yes. Kaye came over for hers. Ours is sitting under the
“Give the kids a hug from their Uncle Flynn.”
“How about giving them one yourself by coming to Houston?”
“Can’t right now.”
“You always say that.” He heard a troubled sigh. “I won’t keep
you any longer. Love you.” She clicked off.
His sisters were the best, but right now his mind was on
Andrea. Hoping she wasn’t asleep yet, he levered himself from the bed and
hurried into the bathroom. After dressing in jeans and a favorite white polo, he
headed down the dark hall for the living room.
And what to his wondering eyes should he
see, but a gorgeous elf putting the last of the flashing lights on the
Jack lay on his back on top of the quilt Flynn had bought.
She’d spread it out on the carpet next to her while she worked. His arms and
legs were going ninety miles an hour, as if he was trying to reach the
“It looks like Santa’s helpers sneaked in while I was
Andrea gave a little gasp of surprise. For once he thought she
might be staring at him. Damn if he didn’t hope she liked what she saw. “You’re
up! What do you think?”
“I think you’re hired.”
Her chuckle delighted him. “I knew you were so exhausted, the
last thing you’d want to do is put up lights. I hope you don’t mind. After I
woke up from my second nap today, it gave me something to do, and it has helped
me unwind. My little sidekick has been coaching me.”
She had a way of putting things that made him want to smile.
“Mind if I hold him?”
“He’s looking at you right now. I think if you don’t, he’s
going to cry.”
“Well, we can’t have that now, can we?” So saying, he scooped
him up from the floor and kissed his cheeks. “Do you know your baby has the
cutest face I ever saw?”
Her hands stilled on the Christmas skirt she was putting around
the base of the tree. “Your little girl takes the honors there, but Jack and I
aren’t complaining. How about you show us a picture of her and her mommy.”
He clutched the baby tightly against his chest. The moment had
come to pull it out of the dresser drawer and take a look.
“Come with me, Jack.”
* * *
a calculated risk, but she
wanted to know more about Flynn’s life. He was her guardian angel right now. He
spent his life keeping other people safe, but she felt he instinctively guarded
his heart. The hunger she saw in him when he held Jack revealed how devastated
he’d been to lose his wife and child. Maybe if he talked about it a little bit
it would help him to get through this painful time.
When he came back into the room with a framed photograph, she
took it from him without saying anything. Both his wife and daughter were
brunettes and utterly adorable. How did anyone ever get over that kind of
“They’re beautiful. Thank you for showing this to me.” She
lifted her eyes to Flynn. “You’ve been a daddy. No wonder you seem so
comfortable with Jack.” She handed the photo back to him. “Was she a good
“Of course. Were you and your wife happy?”
He nodded slowly.
“Then you were a very blessed man, even if your time with them
was cut short.”
Flynn put the picture on the coffee table before turning back
to her. “I’m sorry you’ve had trouble in your marriage.”
“So am I. When I first met Jerry, I thought
This is the one.
If there were warning signs, I didn’t
see them. I’d dated quite a lot over the years, so that when he came along, he
stood out from everyone else. Because he was a pilot we had our time apart, but
when we came together it was like a honeymoon every time.”
She looked at the floor. “What I didn’t know was that when he
was away flying, he was having a honeymoon with other women on his layovers.
Like that old saying about the sailor with a wife in every port, that was
Flynn’s features sobered. “He’s the loser now. Not you. You
have your son and can get on with a brand-new life full of all sorts of
Andrea bit her lip. “I’m sure your loved ones have told you the
same thing, that life is out there ready for you to embrace. But we both know
it’s a lot easier said than done.”
“Touché. Once you’ve loved, it’s hard to let it go no matter
what,” he said in his deep voice.
Her gaze turned to his. “He’s not the man I thought he was, so
that pain is gone. In my case it’s the dream that’s been hard to get over.”
“In time you’ll heal, especially when you know you don’t have
anything more to fear from him after he’s caught.”
“What do you think will happen?”
“He’ll be arraigned. In all probability the judge will order
psychiatric testing before he hands down sentencing. Even if he had nothing to
do with the attempted kidnapping, he has harassed you and violated the
restraining order many times. But if he is implicated, then a trial date will be
set with a jury and witnesses.”