Authors: Tina Leonard,Rebecca Winters
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Fiction
“Not quite,” she said, fibbing like mad. No one would believe
that the two of them staying under one roof was coincidental or official. That
was the problem. “What happened to Mrs. Penny’s nephew? Kelly said he was
supposed to be the Santa.”
“Last-minute change.” Seagal looked pleased about that. “Why
didn’t the proverbial grapevine let me know I was going to be a dad? Even in
Dallas, I should have heard about it from my old cop buddies here in town. My
partner usually keeps me informed of the news in Bridesmaids Creek.”
She frowned. “Because I didn’t tell anyone you were the father.
Only Kelly knew.”
Capri sat down, finally deciding Mrs. Penny’s curiosity was
going to have to wait. “It seemed best, considering our situation.”
She didn’t think she’d ever seen her husband look more unhappy,
except when they’d decided to separate.
“The divorce is final in two weeks,” he said quietly. “The day
after Christmas. You weren’t planning on giving us much of a chance to get back
“Because of a pregnancy?” Capri shook her head. “Seagal, if
you’d wanted to come home, you would have long ago.”
“I can’t blame you for feeling that way.” He cast a longing eye
at her stomach. “You look beautiful, by the way.”
Secretly she was flattered, even if she knew Seagal was being
kind. “Thank you.”
He nodded. “It’s true.”
She didn’t say anything else. Things were too uncomfortable
between them as it was.
“What are we having?”
She looked at him, seeing real interest in his eyes. “I don’t
know. I didn’t want to find out,” she fibbed.
“I’m going to be there,” he said softly.
He leaned back on the sofa, trying to seem casual. The depth of
his voice told her that Seagal was anything but casual.
“All right. Just no looking under the sheet or seeing me
He smiled. “Always good to know the ground rules.”
Her heart beat a little harder at his smile, but she’d always
loved Seagal’s smile, and just about everything about him. “Will you be
comfortable sleeping on the sofa?”
“Well, I’d be more comfortable in our—”
“You’re familiar with the kitchen, I’m sure,” she interrupted.
“I’m not happy about you being here, but I guess Mrs. Penny will just have to
have some gossip with her bagel in the morning.”
Shrugging, he scooted down in the sofa and closed his eyes.
She studied her almost-ex-husband. “Exactly what is it you’re
protecting me from?” she asked, thinking she was in far more danger from
His eyes remained closed. “The man we arrested today was part
of a small-time gang using your shop to transfer drugs. Now he’s in jail, but
someone else will take his place. Your shop might have proven to be convenient.
We want to bust this crowd, but obviously we don’t want you caught in the
middle, since there may be hometown boys involved.”
“I don’t know a single person in BC who would dabble in illegal
drugs,” Capri said. “We have our troublemakers, but no one who would do
something like that. If there really are drugs in Bridesmaids Creek, they have
to be coming from the outside.”
Seagal shrugged. “I can’t say any more than I have. But I’m
hanging out here with you until the BC guys have everything pinned down.”
She didn’t want Seagal in close quarters with her. No telling
what might happen if they shared a roof.
They’d shared a bed before—that part of their marriage had been
wonderful. But a marriage wasn’t built solely on sexy fun.
“I can close the store for a few days,” Capri said, knowing
that wasn’t really feasible. She had employees to think of, and arrangements
already ordered for holiday parties and even a wedding.
“That would stop the traffickers for a few days, but not the
long term. Simpler to just catch them while the situation’s hot.”
Capri eyed her husband lying on the sofa he’d never been keen
on—he’d far preferred the leather sofa in the den—and thought he looked sexier
than the last time she’d seen him. He’d shattered her heart when he’d left, and
now he was back, wanting to protect her, and see his child born.
The situation was
“This is not the way to spend Christmas,” she said. “Haven’t
you heard that holidays are stressful?”
He pushed his Stetson low on his face. “Then don’t stress me
out? She was pregnant,
someone was using her grandmother’s shop for illegal activity and her sexy
about-to-be-ex husband wanted to be her bodyguard.
“Merry Stressmas,” she said, and went off to bed.
Seagal let himself out of Capri’s house the next
morning to check the perimeter of the small, three-bedroom home. The fact that
his wife and child might be in danger chilled his blood. He’d nearly had heart
failure when he’d heard that the feds were nosing into a drug ring in
Bridesmaids Creek—and who should be involved but his darling,
Imagine his shock when he learned from a very reliable source
that his wife was about to make him a dad. Heart failure. Capri had always
brought him to his knees, but now…now she staggered him.
She hadn’t planned to tell him. He knew Capri better than she
realized. Oh, she would have told him after the birth of his bundle of joy, and
not one second before.
Because she knew he’d be right back here in Bridesmaids
Creek—and she didn’t want him back.
Tough. She was going to have him. That baby was going to know
its dad—no matter what sexy mama had in mind.
Seagal glanced up. His fellow officer Jack Martin idled at the
curb in one of Bridesmaids Creek’s new police cruisers. He strolled over to
greet Mrs. Penny’s nephew.
“What’s up, Jack?”
Jack grinned. “Considering that your car is parked in Capri’s
driveway, I’m surprised you are.”
Seagal ran a hand over his unshaven chin. “Just barely. Did you
bring me a latte, or is this a social call?”
His buddy grinned. “Neither. Just wanted to let you know that
you were a hit last night. The kids said you were the best Santa ever. You’ve
been voted Santa Most Likely to Repeat next year.”
Seagal grunted. “I couldn’t get out of that itchy suit fast
“Scrooge.” Jack handed him a coffee in a white cardboard cup.
“Have a jolt on me. Figured you didn’t sleep much.”
Seagal sipped the beverage gratefully. “I didn’t. As sofas go,
it’s not made for sleeping. I always despised that flowery thing, and now it’s
my bed. I think that’s called karma. I wanted to get rid of it, and somehow that
poufy nightmare outlasted me.”
Jack laughed. “Does my aunt always keep an eye on you like
this? I’d like to think she’s proud of me, but I’m pretty sure she’s got her
radar trained on you.”
Seagal glanced over his shoulder, waving at the
pink-roller-wearing Mrs. Penny. She had a white phone tucked firmly up to her
ear, chatting away. Mrs. Penny waved back, thrilled to have been noticed. “You
know your aunt and her friends run this one-horse town. If it wasn’t for her,
we’d still be—”
“The creek no one ever heard of.” Jack put the cruiser in
Drive. “True, but you’re definitely in her sights for the next few weeks. Just
so you know. I won’t be down the street before she calls me wanting to know
“I’m good with it. She makes great chocolate chip cookies.”
Jack grinned. “I know. By the way, I was told to give you a
nudge to snoop around your wife’s flower shop.”
Seagal’s cup didn’t quite make it to his mouth. “What am I
Jack shrugged. “Anything suspicious. Especially check out the
employees, and anyone who seems to hang around a lot. You get the idea.”
“Yeah, but—” Seagal considered what Jack was saying. “The drugs
could have been moved after Capri put the arrangements out at
“Probably. Just check around.”
Jack drove off. Seagal grabbed the newspaper lying on the
sidewalk and waved to Mrs. Penny before heading inside the small painted house,
ruminating on how he could snoop around Capri’s shop without getting her annoyed
at him. She’d always been super-independent. And they weren’t on the world’s
Now he had to scope out her business
Nothing good could come of this.
“Good morning.” He looked at Capri as he walked into the
kitchen. She seemed pale, not her usual sparkly self. “You all right?”
Capri picked up her purse. “I had a little stomach upset last
night. It kept me up, so I’m going to let Dr. Blankenship check me over.”
“I’ll drive you,” Seagal said quickly.
She looked at him. “Kelly’s going to take me, thanks. Don’t you
He did—her. “Nothing I can’t handle. Cancel Kelly and let me
sub in. A dad should be there if his young son is causing his mother heartburn.
And anyway, isn’t Kelly part of the Christmastown cleanup team this
Capri hesitated. He loved how she’d pulled her blond hair up
into a bouncy ponytail to get it out of her face. She no longer wore the skinny
jeans and cute cropped sweaters she’d once favored, but she was still all kinds
of beautiful as far as he was concerned. Sexier than ever, actually. He felt his
own heart get a little burn in it that had nothing to do with anything he’d
eaten and everything to do with his wife keeping him at arm’s length.
“Yes, she is. So am I, but Dr. Blankenship said I could cross
that fun off my list immediately.” She looked at Seagal. “I guess you can take
me to the doctor. Thank you.”
“Great.” He grabbed his keys and tried to help her to the front
door. Capri waved him off. “Because I was about to play the guilt card on
“That would be a new one,” Capri said.
He thought she sounded tense and realized she didn’t feel well
at all. “Hey, you want me to carry you?”
“No,” Capri said. “I want you to walk very slowly and don’t do
anything to get Mrs. Penny in a lather.”
“Too late,” Seagal said, waving again to Mrs. Penny. It seemed
rude not to acknowledge her at her lace-festooned lookout.
“It’s going to be all over town that you spent the night,”
Capri said, not thrilled.
“Yeah, well. Could be worse, right? Could have been her nephew,
my buddy Jack.”
He helped Capri into the car. She eased in as though she was
trying not to disturb fragile packaging. “Are you sure I shouldn’t take you
straight to the hospital?”
“I’m fine.” Capri put a hand on her stomach and looked out the
window, deliberately avoiding his gaze. He pulled out of the drive, resisting
the urge to mash the pedal to the floor.
“You’re almost seven months pregnant,” Seagal said. She’d
kicked him out—though she claimed he’d left—four months ago. “How did I not
“Even I didn’t know.” Capri sighed. “The first trimester was a
dream. I didn’t realize I was pregnant until the end of the third month. The
second trimester was more difficult, at least for me. I didn’t start showing for
quite a while, I guess because I’m tall.” He felt her gaze on him. “I did have a
little bit of stomach distress when you were still here, but I assumed it was
extreme annoyance. So I ignored it.”
He grimaced. “Turned out it was a baby?”
She sighed. “You might as well know. There are two. Not even
Kelly knew that.”
Seagal slammed the brakes at the stop sign out of pure reflex.
Shock. Brain-hit-with-a-stun-gun shock. “We’re having
“That’s right. Drive. I don’t want to be late.”
Seagal couldn’t get any words past his throat. No wonder Capri
seemed so big. She
big. “When were you going to
“When you got over the initial shock of finding out you were
going to be a father.”
He grunted, his heart racing. Two? There were no multiples in
his family, or hers, as he recalled. “How did that happen?”
“You made love to me a lot,” Capri said, “and something hit
bingo would be my guess.”
made love to her as often as
possible. To be honest, making love to Capri was pretty much the best part of
his day. He missed it like crazy.
“I should never have left,” he said. “You talked me into a
separation, but I knew better at the time. I was right. We belong together.”
She shrugged. “Not because we’re going to be parents, Seagal.
Children won’t fix what was wrong with our marriage.”
He parked in front of the doctor’s office. “Sit right there and
do not move, Miss Independence. I’m coming around to shoehorn you out. I’m
afraid if you move the wrong way, we’ll have babies sooner rather than
Seagal hurried around to help her out of the car, amazed that
his wife actually remained seated, patiently waiting for him. The soft blue
dress fell around her tummy, catching his eye. It looked as if a watermelon had
taken up residence inside his delicate wife. He eased her from the seat, trying
to brace her. “I came back not a moment too soon, I can tell. I’m not leaving
your side, Capri.”
“Obviously,” she said, sounding as though she was gritting her
teeth a bit. “You’re assigned to me.”
“That’s right,” he said cheerfully, reminded that she couldn’t
dislodge him even if she wanted to.
isn’t the same thing as
marriage,” Capri said, walking slowly into the doctor’s office. “You can stay
with me until the cops figure out that I’m not in any danger. The whole drug
thing is purely a coincidence. Then you can go back to wherever you came
That didn’t sound good. Seagal wisely kept his mouth shut,
hovering over his wife as she checked in, then helped her to a chair. He
received several smiles from the other women in the waiting room and relaxed a
bit. His wife was going to have to get over her idea that their marriage was a
He hadn’t come back to fail. When Beau, Capri’s beloved “baby”
brother, had told him that Capri was having a baby, he’d pulled every department
string possible to get himself assigned to the case—and ultimately, to her.
Having worked his way up in the Texas Rangers, he was something of a hometown
hero. It hadn’t been hard to get assigned back to BC.
It was terrifying to think he had only two weeks to win back
Capri would be mad as a little bee if she knew how determined
he’d been to get back into her life. He’d wanted to keep her out of danger the
second he heard about the case building in Bridesmaids Creek. But when he’d
heard that she was pregnant, Seagal had known he had to move heaven and earth to
be with her.
And he wasn’t leaving her ever again—not if he could convince
his opinionated and cutely stubborn little wife otherwise.
* * *
,” Dr. Blankenship said. He
gazed sternly at Capri.
The expression on the doctor’s face unnerved Seagal. Rarely had
he seen the physician look so concerned.
“Bed rest?” Capri said. “I have a lot to do. I’m doing the
flowers for a wedding. I’m also scheduled for some Christmas parties—”
“Total bed rest,” Dr. Blankenship cut in, shaking his head. “We
talked about you needing to be in bed last week, Capri.”
“What?” Seagal looked at Capri in disbelief. “What were you
“That I had Christmastown to set up, and that Dr. Blankenship
is overprotective. I’ve known him since I was a child. He’s always been from the
old school of medicine.” She tried to lever herself off the table, and both men
jumped to assist her.
“No,” Dr. Blankenship said. “Capri, these babies are going to
come early if you don’t stay off your feet. And the longer they stay in you, the
better off they will be. Do you want them inside you growing and getting the
nourishment they need naturally, or do you want to take precious time from them?
They could end up with immature lungs or other complications,” he warned, his
gray eyes filled with disapproval.
“All right. You’re right. Of course you’re right. I don’t know
what I was thinking.” Tears jumped into Capri’s eyes, stunning Seagal. He’d seen
Capri cry once, maybe, in all the years he’d known her. Doc Blankenship handed
her a tissue, which she took gratefully, blowing her nose. “I’ve never been the
kind of person to lie around.”
“I know.” The doctor looked at her with the first bit of a
smile he’d worn in the past half hour. “But going ninety to nothing isn’t going
to benefit you or the babies. You can press Kelly into service for help with the
wedding arrangements, can’t you?” He regarded Seagal cautiously. “Are you back
in town for good now?”
“Yes,” Seagal said, stressing the word with a glance at his
Capri looked away, fidgeting with her tissue.
“Then you stay on her,” Doc Blankenship said. “It’s absolutely
critical that Capri remain at home in bed. I should have forced her on this
issue last week, but she assured me she was fine.”
“I am fine,” Capri said. “Or I was until last night.”
“Clearly I returned not a moment too soon.” Whether she liked
it or not, he intended to be a pain-in-the-butt nurse, sticking to her like
He knew Capri would resent his intrusion. Resist his efforts to
take care of her. She’d barely accepted his role as bodyguard; bodyguard with a
nursing specialty she’d like even less.
But she was still his wife. And he loved her, even if she
thought she was over him.